Die Hard: Yes it IS a Christmas Movie

Well it’s Christmas again and what does that mean?  It means it’s a time of stress (some fun), greed (some generosity), and food (some gluttony.)  It also means it is the time of year for the eternal debate.  A debate that has raged for nearly thirty years and still can stop a conversation cold whenever it comes up.

But fear not, I have the solution supported by incontrovertible evidence and will finally put this debate to bed forever.

What topic could be so important and cause so much consternation in the supposed season of joy?  There is of course only one topic it could be:

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

I have the answer.  It is without a doubt “YES IT IS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE.”  And here’s why:

  • Christmas is INTEGRAL to the plot: Unlike other less-debated films (such as Lethal Weapon) which take place around Christmas time but the season isn’t integral to the plot, the fact that it is Christmas in Die Hard is the reason behind all of the events of the film. This theory is proven as the answer to a single question: WHY was John McClane in Los Angeles to begin with?  He wasn’t there to win his estranged wife back.  He wasn’t there just to visit his kids, not even to visit them on the holidays.  No he specifically states he was “invited to the [Nakatomi] Christmas party by mistake.”  So not only is he there to celebrate the holidays with his family he’s specifically at Nakatomi  Plaza because he was invited to the office Christmas party.  Simple as that.  No Christmas.  No John McClane there for the heist.  If he’s not there there’s no story.  Some might argue that this doesn’t make it specifically a Christmas movie and that this is more just set up.  I’d respond that the same could be true for my favorite Christmas movie of all time, A Lion in Winter.  Henry II lets Eleanor out for Christmas.  Some gifts are seen, some food is eaten, but it’s more about the interactions and machinations of the characters.  But it is undoubtedly a Christmas movie.  And so is Die Hard.

  • Music: Love it or hate it Christmas music is iconic and has a very specific sound and feel.  From bells to choruses, Christmas music makes for a holiday atmosphere.  And Die Hard is loaded with Christmas musical queues. What’s the first song you hear? Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” (Argyle wasn’t bullshitting, it IS Christmas music.)  Even outside of the licensed music, the score is often accompanied by holiday bells, often used either ironically or to demonstrate how the holiday has influenced the events.  One fine example is the musical queue when it is revealed McClane has taped his gun to his back using Christmas themed wrapping tape.  Even the last musical queue is Christmas music.  “Let it Snow” plays while millions of dollars of negotiable bearer bonds and office paper drift down from the ruined façade of the plaza.

  • Themes: Imagery and commentary is all about the holidays. This is muted somewhat by the fact that the film takes place in Los Angeles.  So there’s no snow or wintry scenes.  Since the action is set within the confines of the building.  But there are Christmas trees, presents, and decorations.  Even the characters acknowledge the connection (such as Holly’s rebuke of Ellis’ advances, as she reminds him it is Christmas Eve).  Or when Hans Gruber tells techie terrorist Theo not to worry because “it’s Christmas… It’s a time for miracles.” Even more obvious is McLane’s use of the holiday tape mentioned above, and, perhaps one of the most famous sequences of the film, when he “decorates” a dead “terrorist” with a Santa hat and the iconic phrase (scrawled in seasonally appropriate red writing) “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”  You couldn’t have these memorable scenes or references in a movie set any other time of year and they make Die Hard the movie it as much as Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman do.

So there you have it.  Case closed.  Die Hard IS a Christmas movie and one of my favorite Christmas movies.  I say that without the least bit of generational snark or anti-establishment sentiment.  Christmas movies are always more than about buying presents, getting home for the holidays, or dealing with family.  Home Alone is a Christmas movie, but it climaxes as a film about a couple burglars who get hurt by a kid while they try to break in.  The Ref is a Christmas movie about a thief hiding out with a dysfunctional family while he’s on the run.  While you were Sleeping?  Christmas movie sure, but it’s more about a woman faking her way into a family (at first…).  Hell even It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas movie about the impact one individual can have on the community.  So every great Christmas movie is about something other than JUST the holidays.

Just like Die Hard…which is not just DEFINITELY a Christmas movie, but one of the best Christmas movies around!

Creative Christmas: Beetlejuice Lydia

In my last post I described my process in creating a chalk pastel Beetlejuice.  I wanted to do a nice version of Lydia to go along with it, but unlike Beetlejuice I didn’t have a clear image to go on.  Also she’s identifiable but not quite as iconic, so she had to come more from my own head than the Ghost with the Most.


I originally wanted to go with revulsion but I didn’t like the way it paired with the Beetlejuice.  So I changed it before the final.


I actually found a picture of “costume ideas” for Lydia cosplayers that I used as a base.


I was particularly proud of my spider necklace design.


She ended up looking more like the cartoon version of Lydia than Winona Ryder, but as the artwork was a little cartoony I ended up being ok with it.


She mostly wears black except for her red wedding dress. Drawing black clothes on black paper is trickier than it seems…


For a first big piece in chalk and color I was pretty happy with them!

Creative Christmas: Beetlejuice

After the Halloween artwork I did I was itching to do some other dark, horror-related art as an X-Mas present to my RevPub Partner since the previous one turned out so well.  I originally thought Ghostbusters but after some thinking I decided to do a piece of Beetlejuice and Lydia.


I was still starting with pencil but I was encouraged by the basic premise.


After some thinking I decided I wanted to show his icky teeth so I gave him an open mouth smile.


This was the first time I added real color to the image.  I liked how it turned out and this was a great first color project as if it looked a bit ragged it was ok on the Ghost with the most.20151113_164031

I was really happy with the finished product.  Now I had to figure out what I was going to do with the other pic I decided to do to match it, Lydia!

Painted Ornaments: A Soultion and Gift

Happy New Year! We’re excited to kick off our fourth year with this site and want to thank all of you for reading! Before we dig into to 2016, I wanted to share a project from this season.

In November, my RevPub partner was having trouble finding ornaments for his tree. You see, traditional ornaments weren’t going to cut it. He wanted a set of something cool. Think unique, a little geeky, and not ridiculously priced.

So, being the problem solver I am, I decided to paint a set of ornaments for him. I made a list of about 20 of his favorite things and decided what my ability would let me do! I narrowed them down to 10 and ended up with 8. The ornaments are a variety of ceramic, wood, and plastic. I used acrylic paints and mixed a lot of colors. Here are the results:

The Psych Pineapple

Psych Pineapple ornament
One of our favorite shows. Psych’s pineapple is an iconic image to all fans, and I added some quick snowflakes that look like its holiday marketing. This was the one I wanted to keep lol.


Cthulhu ornament
H.P. Lovecraft’s monster Cthulhu from The Call of Cthulhu. James is a big Lovecraft fan, and I was terrified to do this one. There are about 1,000 images of this creature, so I went simple.

Warhammer Ork

Warhammer Ork ornament
Warhammer 40K Ork glyph. James loves his orks dirty, so that’s what I tried for the ork ornament.

James’ Cat Raz

Raz cat ornament
I do not claim to know how to draw portraits, so I used a little shading. This was one of the more difficult ones. Again, I can’t draw, but I was happy with it. You can tell it’s a cat lol.

The X-men Boss

X-men ornament
From the X-men arcade game. X-men, welcome to die! James and I actually played this game, and it’s one of my favorite Angry Video Game Nerd play-throughs. Seeing this always makes him laugh!


Ghostbusters ornament
Who you gonna call? One of his favorite movies and the iconic image. I had a lot of people love this one! This was one of the last ones I did because it was going so well, I was afraid to finish it.


Hadouken ornament
Is this a hadouken?! were the best words I’ve ever heard. From Street Fighter and one of his favorite things to say while playing the game. This was such a pain. The design changed five times, and I almost scrapped it. Overall, I was happy with the final, and he knew what it was. That is all that matters.

Line from Scrooged

Scrooged ornament
Bill Murray says this to his board members after watching the terrible promo. This movie is usually our Christmas movie tradition, and this one line says it all.

This project was a ton of fun and challenged my painting skills to the max. It also led to a few other ideas and possibly future gifts. I had never painted in this detail and want to thank Google images for helping me through it. Here’s to trying new things in 2016: Don’t be afraid; it usually works out!

Christmas Family Traditions

I seldom steal ideas from my partner, but I found my RevPub partner’s X-mas Family Traditions post quite inspiring. Traditions – old and new – are a part of any holiday, but I’m also a fan of changing them. I think this is where people struggle the most because when “we’ve always done it” causes issues, it may be hard to let go. I also have to write a shout-out to my family: Thank you for the flexibility and drama-free holidays. I know this isn’t always the case, and I appreciate you for it.

Christmas Family Traditions
My grandma’s tree 2015. This changes nearly every year, and it’s always gorgeous.

Here are a few of my family traditions, many of which have changed over time:

Story time: I owe my grandmother a great deal, and she is solely responsible for the love I have for Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Every year, and multiple times throughout the year, she would read us this book. She used inflections and brought the story alive. Even as an adult when I read it, I feel like I’m in Whoville. Or, depending on my mood I’m the Grinch!

When I grew up, my son loved Santa more than anything. So, every Christmas Eve I read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I make sure to bring the same excitement and passion to the story as my grandma did for me.

Christmas Movies: This is a personal tradition. Just as I watch only horror in October, I try to watch only Christmas in December. What makes a Christmas movie? Well, I count anything with snow and if they mention Christmas. This may seem unconventional, but it keeps things entertaining and avoids lame ones with bad acting. As my partner states, we watch Scrooged, and we have seen a number others together. As a kid, Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Grinch were some of our favorites. Looking back, this may have been the best way to shut us up for two hours.

The Food: I come from a family of cooks. Nearly everyone in my family tries to cook, and some are better than others (wink). While we have traditional foods, such as ham and grandma’s sherbet punch, I also remember my grandpa’s fudge and candy-coated Ritzs and the spread of more food than you can imagine. My family tries new recipes all the time, so our traditional menu constantly changes. It’s tradition for us to try new dishes!

This also leads to staples. My uncle has to bring sausage dip. I have to bring deviled eggs. That is a funny story in itself because I was asked to bring them one year and have been designated to bring them to every event since. This year, I used hot and sweet jalapenos because I was out of relish, and they went over a little too well.

Christmas Family Traditions
Opening presents at my grandparents’ house. I was 9 to 11 in this. I believe the pen marks are from my brother.

The Celebrations: I come from a “nontraditional” family, as my parents divorced when I was a kid. I had a lot of Christmases, but my favorites were Santa in the morning, then going to my grandparents. When I was younger, we’d always gather on Christmas Day after seeing what Santa brought. As our families grew, we celebrate on the Sunday before Christmas. I appreciate this more than my family knows. This allows for new traditions on Christmas Day and gives parents more time with their kids. I’m pretty anti-travel on Christmas Day and try to stay home when possible. This doesn’t always go over well, but people get over things pretty quickly, so don’t be afraid to say no. As long as you visit around Christmas, that’s all that should matter.

Presents: I remember the first time I went to someone else’s Christmas, and they opened presents one at a time. I thought I was going to die from boredom – no offense intended. I also thought how terrible it would be if you got something you didn’t want. You’re sitting there in front of 10-plus people and have to fake happiness. I immediately felt pressure.

You see, my family opens presents at the same time. A couple of people pass out all the gifts, and my grandma essentially says, ready, set, go! It takes 10 minutes tops. We shout thank yous from across the room, hold up gifts to show someone who also likes it, and it’s chaotic. That tradition has never changed, and it’s awesome. Afterwards when all the wrappings are picked up, people walk around and see what everyone received and have conversations about them. In a way, it’s more personal and allows time to talk one-on-one. I realize most families open one at a time, but consider trying this sometime. It’s 10 minutes of chaos, then an hour of real conversation.

We hope you had a nice holiday, and we look forward to 2016! Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year from RevPub!

X-Mas Family Traditions

It’s the holidays and while many traditions have entered into the realm of the universal, there are some that undoubtedly are only known to the families and friends who created and maintain them. One of the most famous is of course Festivus, a strange secular tradition created by Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe’s father Daniel. It is an unusual example as random stories from Seinfeld writers’ personal lives often ended up as plots on the show, but it makes you think how many other family-specific traditions exist out there and how many might gain wide-spread popularity if they were known. I’m sure every family has at least one; I thought I’d share a couple from my family:


  • Christmas Donuts: This is the biggest one in the Castro family. My maternal grandfather is a retired country musician who traveled extensively during his career (my mom told me a story of how a BeeGee was once her baby sitter at a bar). Due to his hectic traveling the family never knew where they would be or be during the holidays and developed a tradition of stopping and getting everyone donuts for a treat on Christmas morning. Even after the traveling stopped Christmas donuts continued, and my mom carried into my Christmases growing up. We used to get up painfully early on Christmas Eve, drive to Shipley’s Donuts, buy an ungodly amount of donuts, and put them in the fridge until Christmas. One year we decided early that no one needed donuts and chose to not get them… Then Christmas Eve afternoon we decided the tradition couldn’t die. We went to an absolutely packed H.G. Hills store, got bags of cheap Kruellers, and had those the next day instead. Even though I don’t have Christmas breakfast with the family now I still get Christmas Donuts. I guarantee sometime before 6AM Christmas Eve morning I’ll be driving to the nearest Shipley’s to get some donuts…

  • John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together: Like most families the actual present opening for a couple kids and parents on Christmas took considerable time. My mom decided to make it an annual tradition to put in a cassette tape of the John Denver/Muppets Christmas album A Christmas Together while we opened presents. Even skipping the slow/sentimental ones it would often play through a couple times during the morning. It’s still not Christmas until Animal shouts “Run Run Reindeer!” and Miss Piggy becomes dramatically offended at the misunderstood lyrics of “Christmas is Coming” (“Piggy pudding?!”)
My dad’s kelaguen actually looks even better than this. The chicken is charred more and the ingredients very thoroughly mixed…
  • A Chamorro Buffet: Most people will have Turkey, dressing, gravy, potatoes, and ham on Christmas. Essentially Thanksgiving again. I can’t remember ever having that for Christmas. From the earliest holidays I can remember my dad always made the feast food from Guam. Kelaguen, Lumpia, charcoal BBQ ribs, chicken, and steak. I’d take it over any turkey or ham any day. He always makes enough that it’ll last a few days. Everyone eats their fill then eats their fill for about three days afterward…
  • Framily Traditions: Of course the modern family extends well beyond relatives. My RevPub partner and I have a number of annual traditions we do to celebrate the holidays. There’s the annual shopping day, which once would often start at 8 in the morning and end around 8 at night and the annual viewing of Scrooged. All of my friends also typically do individual Xmas exchanges as well. Just stopping by around the holidays to see what weird random stuff we found we thought we’d all like.

We here at RevPub wish everyone a happy holiday season and we hope you enjoy all of your family holiday traditions. You never know, one may end up as a storyline on a sitcom one day!