Santa Is Coming To New Jersey by Steve Smallman – Review

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Jolly old Saint Nick delivers presents all around the world. You already know about that though. And you’re aware that he’s so fast, that if you blink, you’ll miss him. Since you were a kid you knew that if you’ve been good all year, you’ll be left with a plate of half eaten cookies and a slew of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. But no one actually sees any of this happen. One way you can experience Santa’s trek, not fully around the world, but around the country, is to take a look at the children’s book series “Santa Is Coming To…” by Steve Smallman. In my case, he came to New Jersey, duh! The question is, was it worth the trip?

This book series is basically Christmas fluff. It’s perfect to read to your young children during Christmas time. It’s not bogged down in detail, but that’s where it fails. The book series squirts some local flavor into each installment, some of which are inspired by states, others by cities around the country.

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In the book, *SPOILERS, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has aged quite a bit. There’s a new, young reindeer, who saves the night for Santa after a blizzard throws the sleigh off course around High Point, NJ. Sprinkled throughout are modern enhancements that the Santa I grew up with didn’t have, such as an On-Star type of talking navigation system.

Critiquing a children’s book feels pretty damn wrong, although, as with most things, I do have one little gripe with it.

My main criticism of the story is that the hero of the book never gets bestowed a name or much of a personality either. The poor little guy didn’t get any credit. He was simply referred to as “the youngest reindeer.” Was the author too nervous to rock the boat that floats around in the lake of Christmas lore? Smallman should’ve been bolder and created his own new reindeer name. We find out numerous times that this new reindeer is young, but we don’t find out much else. He really needed a gimmick. After Rudolph became the most “Hollywood” reindeer, it’s imperative that any subsequent reindeer ups their game. I can’t really figure out if the book was about Christmas in general or this new spry reindeer. There. BAM! I just named him. Spry. If that’s taken by a trademark, why not just call him Vigor or something along those lines? See, I’m an idea man. They should’ve consulted with me first.

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Rudolph was so memorable that Santa’s other reindeer now seem so dull. Each one now needs to have a special characteristic to keep them from boring children. Maybe one of them is able to twirl a basketball on his hoof like a North Pole Globetrotter, another one might be a halfway decent break dancer who’s practicing his ass off to go to the neighborhood break dance tournament, then there could always be that one really smart reindeer who has a genius brain, but feels like he’s stagnating in a nine to five finance position, but his superior mind becomes a great advantage to Santa when he’s called up by the big man in red to help the rest of the reindeer on Christmas Eve. These are all valid suggestions.

Come to think of it, the need to keep this book series generic is where it fails. To plug in all the various locales that the series offers into the same story requires the plot to be very broad, but it’s the lack of details and character development that will hinder it from sitting on your shelf with the other yearly Christmas reads.

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The New Jersey aspect of the book was adequate. It’s hard to expect it to be a “tour guide” of the state by any means, but it was certainly pretty cool for what it is. We get to see a couple of nicely done art splashes of recognizable buildings and points of interest in Newark and Atlantic City. The cover of the book is really the best part since it brings it all together, plus it includes Lucy the Elephant and what looks to me like the Loews Jersey City Theatre. Robert Dunn’s illustrations have a vintage quality that remind me of the ones I remember seeing in story books in the library when I was young.

Should you go out of your way to get this book? The story itself is light reading, and since it’s a kids book, you can read it to them in no time. Considering a hardcover copy is $4.99 on Amazon at this very second, I’d say it’s worth it if you are into Christmas and New Jersey or you think your kids will enjoy it. Otherwise, you’ve seen all you need to see in this post. Santa is Coming to New Jersey will entertain the kid with a low attention span in your life during Christmas time, but it will never take the place of children’s classics like The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Sexy Armpit’s Christmas Address

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No The Sexy Armpit isn’t dead. And no, I haven’t given up on the site.

Not too long ago I was getting over a head cold and then I just fell into a lazy funk the past few weeks. It happens to the best of us. Slacking is especially easy at the end of the year. After a pretty f’d up year filled with tough times for everyone comes the shopping, the holiday traffic, and the aggravation that goes along with it. So now it’s time to enjoy the hard work we put in this year, and soak up as much of the quality family time we can.

From my perspective here in New Jersey we dealt with one of the most disastrous hurricanes ever in the U.S. In addition to that, all we’ve heard about this year are heart wrenching news reports on the mass shootings happening around the country as well as reading every single stupid journalistic spin on the “fiscal cliff” that fills our quota for a lifetime. As with every ball drop in Times Square, 2012 started out positive, but definitely didn’t end that way. Whether these things effect you personally or not, these are stressful times. I didn’t even come up with a wish list for Santa Claus like I did last year.

As bleak as this post seems, I’m definitely looking forward to 2013. I’m still attempting to gather a small cast for the rest of the scripted YouTube shows I have in the can. As I’ve stated here in the recent past, I don’t have any lofty goals for this site. It’s not a place where I just post photos that you can find anywhere on the Internet without rhyme or reason and if you don’t see a post for a few days (or weeks) that means I’m not inspired by anything lately. It may sound silly that I refer to inspiration when dealing with New Jersey t-shirts and movie references, but it’s all about motivation, the fuel.

I don’t give a shit about awards, peer acceptance, or credibility. This blog is not a “jumping off point,” and after 8 years I don’t expect to gain anything from it, especially cash. It is what it is, and that is The Sexy Armpit. If you dig it, I consider you a friend and thank you for being on board. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and appreciate every second you spend with your family!

The Eucharist Happy Meal

Tonight’s blog is about this year’s annual trip to church on Christmas Eve. Last year I wrote about a few things I noticed while at church and this year I found a few things to write about as well. After each section of the mass that requires an “Amen” I realized that some people feel the need to beat the others to saying the “Amen.” At church on the 24th, I heard people almost cut off the end of the priest’s words just to be the first to say Amen. It’s almost as if they want to be snobby about it and brag that they know that an Amen is coming up. Like “Ha ha, I’m gonna say Amen first because I know it’s coming because I come every week. Just say AMEN when the priest is done speaking. This isn’t a contest! And just because you’re a certified choir singer doesn’t give you the right to annoyingly oversing every friggin’ song for the whole entire mass!

The other thing that makes me crawl out of my skin is when people drink the wine after receiving communion. How many people are drinking out of that friggin’ chalice? That’s absolutely disgusting! I like to think that there are many, many more people out there that are more germaphobic than I am, but it still makes me ill to think about it. I saw a young girl go to drink some of the wine and I immediately got grossed out because I saw how many people went up to drink from it previous to her. I saw the chalice holder wipe the chalice occasionally but even still the germs will remain there. I think they should have like135 chalices and let everyone get their own with the wafer, then they can throw in a Buddy Christ figure to round out the deal like a Eucharist Happy Meal. How come Dane Cook didn’t come up with that one?