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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 1979

Today's Tuesday Timeline coincides with Day #13 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR - and all I have to say about today's entry is that it might leave you very cold.  But, least I have managed to make it holiday themed!

Of course, before I go ahead with today's selected topic, as always I will be taking a look at some of the other topics that weren't selected.

Let's see what happened in the history books this thirteenth day of December, shall we?

1294 - Saint Celestine V resigns the papacy after serving just five months

1577 - Sir Francis Drake departs Plymouth, England to embark on a voyage around the world

1758 - 360 people lose their lives when British transport ship Duke William sinks in the North Atlantic

1769 - Dartmouth College is founded

1818 - Mary Todd Lincoln (d. 1882) is born in Lexington, Kentucky

1871 - Canadian artist Emily Carr (d. 1945) is born in Victoria, British Columbia

1928 - George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" is first performed

1930 - Actor Robert Prosky (d. 2008) is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1938 - The Neuengamme concentration camp opens in Hamburg, Germany - one of the many reminders of the Holocaust

1941 - Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States during World War II

1961 - American artist Grandma Moses passes away at the age of 101

1962 - NASA launches Relay 1

1972 - Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third "Moonwalk" of Apollo 17 - they are the last men to walk upon the surface of the moon as of 2016

1977 - The entire University of Evansville basketball team die in a plane crash near Evansville Regional Airport

1981 - Martial law is declared in Poland by General Wojciech Jaruzelski - largely due to the actions by "Solidarity"

1982 - A large and powerful earthquake strikes Yemen, killing over 2,800 people

2003 - Saddam Hussein is captured by American forces near his home in Tikrit, Iraq

2011 - A murder-suicide takes place at a Christmas market in Belgium, leaving six dead

2013 - A murder-suicide takes place at a high school in Centennial, Colorado where a female student is shot and the gunman takes his own life

And for celebrity birthdays we have Dick Van Dyke, Christopher Plummer, Tom Shaw, John Davidson, Ted Nugent, Robert Lindsay, Wendie Malick, Jim Davidson, John Anderson, Steve Forbert, Dale Berra, Steve Buscemi, Morris Day, Eric Marienthal, Harry Gregson-Williams, Don Roff, Mike Tirico, Jamie Foxx, NeNe Leakes, Bates Battaglia, Tom DeLonge, Luke Steele, Amy Lee, Laurence Leboeuf, Rickie Fowler, and Taylor Swift turning one year older!  Happy birthday to you all!

Okay, so what date will we be going back in time to this week?  Well, for some reason, I feel like going back in time to a year before I was born.

I also want to make this entry holiday themed.

Oh, look.  We've arrived at our destination.  December 13, 1979.

Now, I would say that when it comes to Christmas, you can't truly celebrate Christmas without watching at least one Rankin-Bass special.  There's the most common ones of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty the Snowman".  And there are those that are lesser known, such as "Cricket on the Hearth" or "The Year Without a Santa Claus". 

Well, today's subject is a Rankin-Bass special that up until a decade ago I had no idea even existed!  And if it wasn't for the fact that I subscribe to a satellite television station that plays non-stop Christmas entertainment from December 1-25, I never would have even known about it.  I guess it just wasn't as popular as Rudolph or Frosty.  And given how this special ends, I guess I can understand why.  It's one of the rare holiday specials in which there really is no happy ending.  And it's also one of those holiday specials that starts at Christmas and lasts through Groundhog Day and the first day of Spring!

I'm talking about the 1979 Rankin-Bass special "Jack Frost".  Not to be confused with the 1998 film "Jack Frost" starring Michael Keaton as a dead musician reincarnated as a snowman.  Yeah, this television special isn't nearly as silly.

Now, everybody knows about the character known as Jack Frost.  Most people don't like him very much as every December he hangs around turning everything he touches into a frozen popsicle and making the air feel like you're wandering around inside of a gigantic refrigerator.  But he is a very essential part of the holiday season - at least in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, and we can count on him to give us mostly white Christmases. 

Well, except for Christmas 2015 where he was on an obvious vacation, that is.

In the case of "Jack Frost", Jack is voiced by Robert Morse, and he is depicted as a sprite that can live forever.  The story is narrated by the groundhog "Pardon-Me Pete" (Buddy Hackett), who has arranged a deal with Jack Frost to extend winter for six more weeks so that he can have more time to sleep.  You see that, people?  It really IS the groundhog's fault when winter refuses to leave!

Well, things go a little bit pear-shaped right at the beginning when Jack rescues a human girl by the name of Elisa (Debra Clinger), and Elisa makes quite an impact on Mr. Frost.  She has penetrated his ice cold heart, and he has fallen head over icicle in love with her.  In fact, his feelings towards her are so strong that he asks Father Winter (Paul Frees) to turn him into a human so that he can be with her.  And he agrees to grant Jack's wish.  But unlike the story of Pinocchio where all he had to do was wish upon a star, becoming a human in Jack Frost's world is a lot more difficult, and he'll have to work for it by earning a house, a horse, a bag of gold, and to make Elisa his wife by the first day of Spring.  Well, at least you can say that Father Winter is going to make him prove to him that he does deserve it.  Should Jack Frost fail to have any of these requirements by the time Spring comes, he will revert back to a sprite forever.

So Jack Frost becomes Jack Snip, and opens up a tailor shop in the town of January Junction alongside his friends Snip (Don Messick) and Holly (Dina Lynn) - two other sprites who have become human to aid Jack in his quest.  And while Elisa is smitten with Jack, she also has feelings for Sir Ravenal Rightfellow, an honourable knight clad in golden armor.

Of course, no Christmas special would be complete without an antagonist, and ours comes in the form of an evil king named Kubla Kraus.  With his army of henchmen, he has taken all of the gold from January Junction for himself, and he has also found a way to kidnap Jack's beloved Elisa.  Whatever will Jack do?

Well, I won't spoil it for those who have not seen this show...but needless to say, the ending is quite heartbreaking.  Not as heartbreaking as Nestor The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, but it's a rather down ending.  By the end of it all, you really feel for Jack Frost, and if it wasn't for the fact that you would likely die of hypothermia if you tried, you really feel like you want to give him a big hug at the end of it all.  It's a very bittersweet ending.

But, given that it's the only Christmas reference I could find for December 13 - I guess it will have to do.

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