“Throughout the 90s my wife and I volunteered a lot for Toys for Tots — we love kids and the Marines,” said Santa Joe. “One year the volunteer Santa had to bow out. I was working in the warehouse that day, because I know how to use a forklift, and I thought ‘well, I’ve got a beard, and I’m fat,’ which were my two goals when I got out of the Navy, so I offered to be Santa that year.
I remember the day after Michael Jackson died very well. That morning I met with my friends at the park and ride so we could all go fishing together — one of them told me to stop singing “Smooth Criminal” on the way there. Once arrived we started paddling, arguing about which Rapalas were ideally colored for attracting bass. No one could agree on a color.
I have become a fuddy duddy when it comes to Christmas. Whereas when I younger I used to string together garlands out of popcorn for the tree, construct gingerbread churches complete with stained glass windows made from melted Life Savers, and wrestle the dog to the floor so I could tie a Santa hat around her head (she loved it), now I can no longer be asked to do more than record A Christmas Story so I can delete it the following August. Thank God not everyone in this state is a boor like me — going around to see the lawns of Minnesotans who are emphatic about decorations is one of the best parts of this time of the year.
The Band’s Visit tells the story of how one mundane mix-up changes the lives of two very different groups of people. Here’s the setup: In 1996, an Egyptian police band means to charter a bus to Petah Tikva in Israel, but owing to some understandable misunderstanding winds up in Bet Hatikva, a fictional town in the middle of nowhere, instead. Rather than go at it like spiders in a freshly rattled jar, however, the misplaced Egyptians and rustic Israelis soon realize that they share much in common.