Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meet My New Best Friends: Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie

Today I attended the #MarchForOurLives in Uptown Charlotte. It was so enjoyable to be around 10,000 people who all were marching for (about) the same reason - to enforce stricter gun laws and save lives in America (or in my case, to abolish guns and their use altogether.)

But perhaps most importantly, at the end, it was where I first felt connection outside my own inner circle. As the march dispersed, the 10,000 was reduced to 7 - me, my parents, and four girls.

These four girls are fighters like I have written about and heard about...but never really met. Their names are Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie. They are leaders in our community. They are fighting the good fight. And now, I fight alongside them as a friend.

As the chants became quieter and the people all started to leave the city square, there I was, alone, a few yards away from Mom and Dad, alone, with four girls who said they were dance students. Unfortunately, they were not ballet students. Fortunately...they "got" me. They wouldn't have cared if I had 21 heads. They wanted to be my friends and thought I was "smart" and "funny". They were good people with good hearts.

Natalie was the leader of the group, and though she looked young, claimed she was dance teacher to Farah, Hannah, and Katie. All four were energetic, beautiful, caring, and though I disagreed with them on certain parts of the issue, I was able to show I was strong and unwilling to let differences of opinion go against friendship.

And they're probably reading my blog as I write it, as I whipped up a makeshift business card and handed it to them.

Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie are proponents of peace, diversity, and inclusion. They wish life was like a Coke commercial. (Coke commercials are famous for their positive messages...think back to their iconic 1982 spot for Super Bowl XVI, "Buy the World a Coke".) A Coke commercial, minus all the drinking of unhealthy carbonated beverages.

Dear Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie - if you're reading this...I'll be thinking of you when I go on my little excursion in Europe with my family in a few days. I'll be keeping you four posted, and the rest of my readers posted on my relationship with them.

P.S. I feel very confident about America's future leaders. (EMMA GONZALEZ 4 PRESIDENT!!!)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Leo Finelli's 10 Best Fictional Characters

In a little over a year, I have created a world of characters, from New York to Los Angeles, the cliffs of New England to the sports of San Antonio. So here, I am finally counting down the top 10 best characters I have created in 8 scripts. Not all of my scripts are represented, though. Here's the list.

#10: Ari Bellum
"Fearless Girl" (2017)
Ari is a supporting character, not in the sense that he's not a lead role, but in the sense that his main job in the story is to support and mentor other characters. He helps not one, but two girls (one made of bronze) achieve their dreams and goes from the butt of everyone's jokes and an ordinary New York kid to a boy everyone wants to be friends with and truly proud to be a (male) feminist.

#9: Owen Saunders
"One Shining Moment" (2018)
Although I have no idea what the real Owen Saunders is like, in my story he's a persistent little boy who loves to milk his musical talents. He also looks out for his friends, engaging in risky pursuits to help people understand what he does, and he can see beyond the surface of his autistic friend Diane, looking into her heart and seeing that she's no different than he is.

#8: Brooklyn Silverman
"The Sun Shines in Heaven" (2017)
This little California girl is all about this quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That's what she teaches to her friends, and as a bonus, she also has a great singing voice that she uses to remedy hearts rocked by tragedy. I'll bet she is now one of the leaders in the Students' March movement.

#7: Hannah
"The Wish Writer" (2016)
She may not have a last name, but this is an all-around good kid that knows what to do when she encounters a magical pencil that can grant any wish: do good deeds for others. She's also filled with wonder and seems poised to never let her childhood die. She's also not afraid to give up her pencil, which she does to her little brother, who learns kindness from her. She is the sibling role model I strive to be.

#6: The Fearless Girl Statue ("Shea")
"Fearless Girl" (2017)
What would you want if for nearly two months you'd been standing on Wall Street facing a colossal bull that looked like it was going to trample you (but you didn't care) and hearing opening and closing bells at the Stock Exchange? Probably to get up and walk, which is the dream our little statue seizes and throttles. Shea is resilient in the pursuit of her dream, and can tolerate getting help from very unexpected sources.

#5: Arianna Aspire
"Girl On Fire" (2018)
Arianna: the ULTIMATE best friend. She senses her best friend's pain when her friend's parents die, she tags along to help another person achieve their dream, she is supportive all around......and as a bonus, she winds up being quite the star pilot! Any child - or adult - should want a best friend like Arianna.

#4: Sheryl Strongheart
"Girl On Fire" (2018)
Here we have a little girl, only eight years old, who takes matters into her own hands and goes, knowing her life is in danger, to fight for a cause she believes in. She knows right from wrong, and longs for freedom in her world, and when she gets it, she modestly avoids giving herself the same amount of power she toppled...all with the help of good friends.

#3: Max
"Someone to Bring Me Home" (2017)
"I'm standing here...watching your light, hoping that things are all right." Max is me in the sense that his desires to make contact with whatever is out there - and he knows there is someone out there - are unbelievably strong, as well as his belief that he belongs both with his family and "out there", which he finds a way to balance.

#2: Patrick Chalmers
"The Sun Shines in Heaven" (2017)
He may think he is tolerant and accepting, but he is initially neither to those who are not as tolerant and accepting as he is. Patrick grows from a man who crudely insults Republicans/Christians as "monkeys" to a man who, if he were president, would put them in his cabinet. He also relates to me in that he's lonely and misunderstood, and grows to learn that he needs someone younger to see the best in him.

#1: Renegade "Rennie" Rochester
"One Shining Moment" (2018)
Rennie has everything in her head that I have in my head. She is a dreamer who dreams of meeting fascinating people, making famous friends (although that's not exactly me, my siblings beg to differ). She is a strong feminist. She also has that desire to make contact that is ever-present in all my characters, and a supportive family. And most of all...she is an expert tactician that can create a master plan to help display her message (well, her take on someone else's message).

The end. And if you don't understand anything I just wrote, why don't you mosey on over to the Scripts page? It's a few degrees warmer there.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Top 12 Songs of Christmas

Christmas music is beloved by many and is a library of festive songs. So, with two days left until Christmas, I'm ranking my top 12 favorites.

(Note: after due consideration, I have decided not to include any numbers from The Nutcracker on the list. These songs are purely instrumental, and are heard often during the month of December, but aren't really Christmas songs.)

(I have also decided not to include Christmas songs of my own composition, such as "Someone to Bring Me Home", which I wrote for my 2017 holiday screenplay of the same title.)

(I have also decided not to include songs that aren't about Christmas but that I associate with Christmas for various reasons, such as "Together We Can Change The World", which I first heard at a school performance at Christmastime, or "Everlasting Light", which was used in a 2017 Macy's commercial.)

So here's the list, and sorry if I made you wait.

12. "We Three Kings" (????)
This ballad of the Magi is such an old song that no one really knows when it was written. It actually has about seven verses, but even so, I haven't tracked them all down. I have also heard the Spanish version of the song, which is confusing, but the minor-key tune, my favorite element of the song, remains.

11. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1949)
The song for me is just as good as the special, but like the special, there are other songs that rank above it. I relate to the character of Rudolph, only most of the ridicule I have taken in life comes from within. I could really write a whole post about how much mockery and scorn I have gotten from my own self.

10. "Mele Kalikimaka" (1952)
Written before Hawaii even became a state, this song is popularly known as simply "that Hawaiian Christmas song" is simple and catchy. And it manages to use more than just twelve letters. (The Hawaiian language's alphabet has only 12 letters: A E H I K L M N O P U W.)

9. "Here Comes Santa Claus" (1972)
The repetitive verses of this song make it a perennial favorite, but it's the triumphant performance at the end of its original source, the 1972 Rankin-Bass/ABC television classic The Year Without a Santa Claus that really makes it feel...emotional. In the special, Santa is offered a day off by the world, but is much too generous to accept the offer. His generosity is actually somewhat moving in the end.

8. "All I Want for Christmas is You" (2003)
Although this song is popularly attributed to Mariah Carey, her recording is in fact a cover - it was written for the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually and performed by Olivia Olson there. Carey popularized the song and it is now an animated Amazon Prime original movie about a young Mariah Carey (The Haunted Hathaways' Breanna Yde).

7. "Believe" (2002)
Josh Groban originally recorded this song for the 2002 movie The Polar Express, and it launched his career, although he still sticks mostly to Broadway. The iconic first four notes of the song are suspiciously similar to a musical piece from Elf, and I don't like to think about the same song showing up in the same movie genre within three years, so that's why it's not higher on the list.

6. "Where Are You, Christmas" (2005)
Faith Hill recorded this in 2005. She had done a lot of work for and with Warner Bros., and three Warner Bros. Christmas movies - the live-action Grinch remake with Jim Carrey in 2000, The Polar Express in 2002, and Elf in 2004 - were sold the song for use in their movie, but none of the producers on any of those movies thought it fit with their film. So she just recorded it solo in 2005.

5. "Somewhere In My Memory" (1989)
This is good with words and as an instrumental - John Williams wrote it for Home Alone. It can be played in any way that shows what Kevin is feeling at any point during the movie - it's a very adaptable song that doesn't really have a mood. The scene in the movie gives the tune its mood.

4. "When Christmas Comes to Town" (2002)
Famously sung by an unnamed girl and a lonely boy on the back of a train headed to the North Pole, this is the REAL best holiday duet (sorry, Baby It's Cold Outside) because the kids have excellent vocals on the original recording from Polar Express and the tune is even a bit hallucinating. Megan Moore and Matthew Hall, the original singers, have recorded an instant classic song, but both, strangely, faded into obscurity soon after the release of the movie.

3. "Last Christmas" (1984)
George Michael and Wham! sealed their places as a holiday staple group with this 1984 single, on which Michael played all the instruments (rather well, in fact). An interesting fact about this song that I like to tell people is that immediately after Michael finished filming the music video, he went to help record...

2. "Do They Know It's Christmas"/Band Aid (1984)
Despite dated ethnocentric lyrics - yes, let's all thank God that we're not poor and hungry but these other people are - this song communicates a powerful message, and though the effect is muddled, I still think this song is the ideal way to remind people to think of those less fortunate than them at Christmas. The release of this even predates the more well known "We Are the World", and thus pioneered the idea of getting a bunch of musicians to record a song together.

1. "My Grown Up Christmas List" (1990)
I think I picked this one #1 because it's the Christmas song I relate to the most, being a teenager. Whenever I hear it, I am reminded of Christmas Eve 2014 - the first year I had trouble thinking of Christmas gifts to ask for because I observed I wanted abstract things and/or things that weren't for myself for the first time that year. Though Natalie Cole was the original artist, Kelly Clarkson made the most famous recording of this song. Its one flaw is a bit of a cluttered tune that's hard to remember.

Spotify Playlist of these songs

Finally, a note on Christmas songs I have written - a hoard more are coming in as I resurrect my 2011 original Christmas movie story treatment that you've never seen, "Miracle on Tryon Street" (with a new title, of course - the original title could mislead audiences into thinking it was a parody or whole-plot reference), with original songs. Expect the finished screenplay, which may even surpass the normal hour-long length of most of my scripts, around January 10.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Most Influential Person of 2017

SHE ARRIVED ON A STRANGELY warm March evening in New York earlier this year. She was loaded off her truck and fixed opposite a thirty-year-old statue of a charging bull. She was the brainchild of advertising agency McCann and State Street Global Advisors. She was five feet tall, and she had the same proactive attitude as every other girl in New York. She had hair blowing in the wind, she wore a T-shirt and a skirt, she wore sneakers. She was just like every other girl in New York.

Except she could not move.

The "Fearless Girl", a statue aimed at promoting the power of women in leadership, sculpted by Kristen Visbal, was unveiled the following morning, and the news media poured down on her. She got crowned with anti-Trump pink hats. She was the #1 trending topic on all social media. Many people knew and heard her message. She was initially only meant to stay for a week. But a week became a month, and a month became a year. Nira Desai even started a petition to make her permanent.

New York's innocent, imaginative children welcomed the new girl on Wall Street, and started the trend of the "right" way to get your picture made with her - linking arms with the statue, whose hands were permanently bound to her hips.

(Above: kids mimic the "Fearless Girl"'s gesture in March 2017.)

Fearless Girl became the symbol of the resistance to the anti-female sentiment President Donald Trump was promoting. She became the most popular girl in New York. Everyone knew her, everyone stopped to talk, but she didn't talk back.

Though some of the children of New York still say she could talk back, but she didn't want to.

"Kids and their imaginations", thought many New Yorkers, until one day, May 6, as the bell rang at the New York Stock Exchange just down the street, a crowd gathered again where the statue stood, a crowd whose likes had not been seen since the statue was erected. People of all ages and all occupations crept in for a look.

But there was nothing to see. Fearless Girl had vanished.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio soon heard about the goings-on and arrived in his limo to check up on things. Murmurs of "Where's Fearless Girl?" persisted as he drove up. De Blasio left his car and approached the crowd. "Does anyone know anything about this?" De Blasio inquired to the gathered masses, upon seeing with his own eyes the absence of the statue.

"I do," said a 13-year-old girl, with radiant fire-colored hair, quickly running down Broadway and into the crowd. Mayor de Blasio called the girl to his side. "Please tell me what you did with the statue," he insisted.

"I'm sorry, you must be mistaken," said the girl. "I am the statue."

Most adults present laughed. Yet most children, especially the smallest ones, listened to the girl, who identified herself as Shea Mentzer, tell her story, as did a curious Mayor de Blasio. According to Mentzer, she had stood for nearly two months on Wall Street opposite the charging bull, calling out to young girls on the street. "Why?" asked an inquisitive young child. "I needed to empower a young girl and win my humanity," Mentzer explained. Mentzer related that about two weeks ago, she'd called out to yet another young girl, but unintentionally attracted the attention of a 13-year-old boy.

Mentzer told that this 13-year-old boy had listened to her desires and her explanation that she needed to be an inspiration for a young girl's confidence, and if she did, she would become a human girl. "Ari (the boy) pried me up and he took me to his apartment on 4th and Avenue of the Americas," Mentzer explained, "and he took me to school the next day, being sure to keep me out of sight. That's when Ari met his teammate on the school quiz bowl team, a little girl named Dakota Severn."

Mentzer continued her story, saying that she and the boy realized Severn, who described herself as "timid, weak, and unmotivated", was the girl she needed to empower in order to gain her humanity. "I spent a few days in Ari's apartment, listening in on Ari and Dakota studying, but one night Ari told me he didn't see the confidence in Dakota that I needed for my humanity. He put me back on Wall Street the next morning."

"Tears," Mentzer said, "ran down my bronze body all day. But that night, I was still crying a little when I felt this strange tingling sensation. My bronze began to chip and tear, and triumphantly, I put my best foot forward, and it moved. I don't know how I knew where the TV studio they were doing the quiz bowl at was, but I just bolted where my feet took me. As I stepped inside, I heard Dakota giving a rousing speech. She was vowing that she wouldn't let her confidence plummet during the trying teenage years. Then the audience got angry and started to yell at her. I opened the door to the studio, and urged everyone to listen to Dakota. She answered the last question correctly, like the unstoppable girl that she is, and won her team the quiz bowl. Soon, she and Ari found me a young couple to be my mom and dad."

Here Mentzer concluded her story, and she turned to the mayor, saying, "It's true. I am the Fearless Girl."

The general consensus among the adults of New York City is that the disappearance of the Fearless Girl will never be explained, but to the children of the city, Shea Mentzer spoke the truth. Every child in New York now recognizes her as their former statue. And it's not just the kids. Many women, especially feminists, revere Mentzer, saying that the world is brighter with their feminist symbol as a truly human, and truly fearless, girl.

Mentzer's closest friends, the aforementioned Ari Bellum and Dakota Severn, are supportive, and, being first hand witnesses to the Fearless Girl's unbelievable evolution into a human girl, confirm her story and persuade doubters to believe her.

And with this said, I am proud to present the Most Influential Person of 2017 to the girl who, it is said, was no more than a slab of metal in January, but is a happy 13 year old in December. Congratulations to Shea Mentzer - your influence this year, and the tale among those who support you, is truly beyond belief. Shea Mentzer, you were the most influential person of 2017, from idea, to feminist symbol, to fire-haired 13 year old.

And what does Mentzer say to this honor, looking into 2018?

"Whatever comes, I'm not afraid," she says when asked.

The most influential person of 2017

Note: This image is actually Shea McHugh, an actress who I'm sure would be honored to be "enacting" Shea Mentzer on my blog.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In My Opinion: The 12 Greatest Christmas Specials of All Time

In addition to the wide-eyed wonder of children and the good music, one of my favorite things about this time of year is watching the Christmas TV specials and movies. I ranked my top 12 essentials, not counting my own scripts. Why top 12? Well, 12 days of here goes, with types (see my July post on types of Christmas specials) enclosed.

12. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1965 TV Special, Type 4)
Upside: The fight against prejudice wasn't a common topic in family shows in 1965 and it's one of the reasons this special has stood the test of time. This classic shows that prejudice doesn't have to be based on gender or race - it can be as simple as choice of career. The message resonates well with me, because I have faced prejudice (mostly from myself, though) my entire life.
Downside: The songs can be too catchy at times, and it utilizes the old cancel/save Christmas trope too clearly. Santa (Paul Frees) is grumpy and not at all what a good Santa should be. He's more like a Macy's Santa who's underpaid. The stop-motion Rankin/Bass animation is not their best and looks artificial. Sometimes it looks as if it were just too obviously made in 1965 (which it was).

11. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1967 TV Special, Type 2)
Upside: The Grinch is a character a 16-year-old who feels alone can relate to well. The animation is well done and there are some funny moments. A cartoon allows for Dr. Seuss's original book to be truly extravagant on TV, and this one is certainly a faithful adaptation.
Downside: The story is a little too hard on consumerism, and I am a little shaken by how much it strikes back against commercial retailers that are pushing people to buy, buy, and buy some more Thanksgiving weekend, mostly because the ways they push people to buy are what I adapt some of my scripts from.

10. "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (1972 TV Special, Type 3)
Upside: The hilarious Miser Brothers are definitely a highlight, but I'll leave the rest of the upside to Rick Goldschmidt, Rankin/Bass historian: "The story of The Year Without a Santa Claus basically says that you are never too old to believe. It emphasizes the fact that in today's world, the spirit of Christmas seems to be lost. Santa is given the luxury of a personal day off by the children of the world, but is much too kind to accept."
Downside: Like Rudolph, it utilizes the cancel/save Christmas trope. Santa and Mrs. Claus (Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth) give excellent performances but they're too often glanced over, because all people remember is the Misers.

9. "Elf" (2004 Theatrical Feature, Type ?)
Upside: Will Ferrell, Will Ferrell, and Will Ferrell. He is one hilarious man. His Buddy the Elf isn't as good as his Alex Trebek, but it's still good. The supporting cast is top notch, but for me, Charlotte (the news reporter who "wants her boyfriend to stop butting his nose into her business") steals the show. That performance is underrated but strong.
Downside: It's very conspicuous that Jon Favreau is trying to make a fantasy, but it isn't working. The story just feels too real and too heavy-duty for Christmas. It's a little dark at times, and I don't like the way they make the Central Park Rangers, in real life trustworthy guardians of New York's public playground, look genuinely evil.

8. "Frosty the Snowman" (1967 TV Special, Type ?)
Upside: Jackie Vernon is a wonderful Frosty. The story has fantasy that's rooted in reality, which I always like. Jimmy Durante nails the narration. There are lines you love to repeat in your room at night.
The animation is classic and everything feels like a good cartoon should.
Downside: Parts of it seem dated, the cartoon medium exaggerates even the reality, and if ever a sequel cheapened the original, Frosty Returns did. Really, John Goodman as Frosty?

7. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946 Theatrical Feature, Type 2)
Upside: Great performances by the whole cast, black-and-white, old movie charm, and an inspirational message. Even facial expressions, such as that when George sees that he has no house if he were never born, are well done.
Downside: It lacks one good thing every Christmas show needs: music. It's a Wonderful Life would be better as a musical. Of that I am sure. Also, many people, myself included, have wondered what the story would be like if, rather than wishing he never had a life, George wishes he had a different life.

6. Toss-up between two stories with many, many adaptations: "A Christmas Carol" (Type 2) and "The Nutcracker" (Type 5)
Upside: Both stories have a certain charm to them that always makes you feel warm inside. Christmas  Carol is a heartwarming story about one man's change of heart in one night, and how he left his penny-pinching ways. The Nutcracker is a different thing in each incarnation, but its popularity in America scores it major points.
Downside: A Christmas Carol is too widely interpreted when one interpretation was clearly intended, and The Nutcracker is too filled with the past and generalizations. I think we should look more to the future for our holiday staple shows, because in my opinion, you're nothing without hope of a brighter future.

5. "A Christmas Story" (1983 Theatrical Feature, Type 5)
Upside: There are hilarious moments, such as the tongue scene and the decoder ring scene, and the running gag involving Ralphie being told he'll "shoot his eye out" if he receives the Red Ryder BB gun is hilarious every time. I've only seen it once, and it was a heartwarming tale about family - as I experienced it initially.
Downside: Dated gender and racial stereotypes, in addition to some other dated stuff and some scenes where it's hard to distinguish between imagination and reality. The lamp that the father puts up in the window and the mother subsequently breaks is a little raunchy. If this movie were set in the 2010s rather than the 1940s, which would mean fewer gender or racial stereotypes and no dated feeling, and if Ralphie's ideal gift was something other than a gun, it might be my #1.

4. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1968 TV Special, Type 1)
Upside: This special is the only one on this list in which Jesus is mentioned. It communicates its message well and has its share of hilarious moments, and as many heartwarming moments to balance them out. Charlie Brown's devotion to his friends through emotional upheaval is inspiring, and that last shot will stay with you.
Downside: Again, striking back against commercialism when commercials are such an inspiration to me can be unsettling at times, similar to the downside of the Grinch special. The piano music is well done but can be annoying and/or make you skittish when it's not there to underscore a good scene.

3. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (1970 TV Special, Type 2)
Upside: Of the Christmas specials with a "better to give than to receive" sentiment, this one does it best, through truly magical stop-motion animation, the best song-and-dance numbers of any show on this list, Paul Frees as ten different characters, and, of course, the classic title song. Fred Astaire's original rendition is a fitting end to this 48 minutes of bliss.
Downside: "One Foot in Front of the Other" is either a really good song or a really obnoxious one, and the mythology surrounding how Santa came to be can cause debate. Otherwise, this is Rankin/Bass's best work.

2. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947 Theatrical Feature, Type 3)
Upside: The classic actors showcased in this 1947 black-and-white film are a spectacle, and Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Santa. The "believe" message sent Macy's on its way to become the department store most frequently associated with Christmas, and I think it's safe to say I'd have a much smaller portfolio if this film was never made.
Downside: Some things, though, are never quite explained, and the story is taken mostly at face value. Also, it takes some understanding to "get" the climactic scene in the courtroom, but other than that, it's a fantastic film.

1. "Home Alone" (1989 Theatrical Feature, Type 5)
Upside: Burglars. Booby traps. An escapade of a hilarious family that forgot its most hilarious member. And, of course, the magnificent music of John Williams. Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is a memorable character that stays with you, and he's the closest thing to a real kid in anything on this list. I also especially like how loving and careful his mother (Catherine O'Hara) is, and their reunion is, in its own way, as good a scene as any slapstick this movie deals you.
Downside: There is none. Nothing wrong with this film at all when it comes to being a good Christmas show. It nails the concept. Unlike the fantasy installments you see on the list, this one is real and comedic at the same time and doesn't have any downsides to how real or fantastic it is.

So closes my list, and if this were a video, cue me falling over after getting hit in the head with a can of paint.

It's Finally Here - A Christian Version of "The Grinch" Story!

What follows is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss's 1957 book and Chuck Jones' 1967 NBC-TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas that does one thing the original did not - mention Jesus. This version goes out of its way (but not too far out of its way) to be a Type One Christmas Tale rather than the Type Two the original was.

But first a brief (am I lying?) retrospective on the piece of work you are about to read.

In 2011, my grandmother sent the family a Christian take on the Grinch poem. I reacted savagely to Gammy's work, first because my sister rather than myself taught the Grinch about Jesus; then because I thought my family had been incorrectly portrayed as one-dimensional, religion-crazed evangelists in the work. But the most likely explanation was that I just believed I could write a better poem.

I wrote several drafts of this Christian take on the classic Grinch story (one in which I cast myself as the Grinch), but finally settled on this one in the end. The final text does borrow some lines and plot points from several of the cheesy rehashes I blogged about on May 22.

An important thing to observe about this poem is that, unlike the cheesy rehashes which I wrote about, has a consistent rhythm. The rehash writers knew Dr. Seuss rhymed, but didn't realize that the rhythm of a Dr. Seuss text was as important as the rhyming aspect. So in a Christian "Grinch" rewrite like the ones I analyzed, there would be lines such as:

Then that mean old Grinch went to the altar and beside it he knelt,
And a strange feeling he felt.

Do the two lines rhyme? Yes. Do the two lines have a consistent rhythm? No!

Also, it's important to observe that I have not made this story too Christian, it's only about as Christian as A Charlie Brown Christmas. This story does mention Jesus, and the Grinch does learn about Jesus, but I have been careful to make sure that the story does not say that Christian = good (or, for that matter, non-Christian = bad - I would never write anything that does that.)

Final note before you begin reading the poem: The sentiments expressed in this poem do NOT reflect the sentiments that Leo Finelli holds. If anything, the sentiments expressed in the poem reflect those his grandmother holds. If you are here to see the Whos, please leave the site, for in this version, there are no Whos. The Grinch instead robs Faithville.

An audio file will soon be up with this post. Now, the poem.

Dr. Seuss once told a child's fable
About the Grinch, who was unable
To steal the cheer that Christmas brought
And about the lesson he was taught.
But if you'll lend an ear or two,
we'll tell a story fresh and new,
About the Grinch and his Christmas crime,
But a little something more this time.
It's an example of Christmas snobbery
That became known as....


Everyone down in Faithville liked Christmas a lot -
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Faithville,
Did not!

The Grinch disliked Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
But please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be his shoes were a wee bit too tight.
However, the most likely reason of all
Was that, without Jesus, his heart was too small.

And so, with a heart full of meanness and doubt,
he watched Christmas Eve as the people came out.
They set out their presents, they bowed heads in prayer,
Which made the Grinch happy that he was not there.
But tomorrow, he knew, all the town's girls and boys
Would wake bright and early, and reach for their toys.
And the noise! Oh, the noise! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the people of Faithville would kneel in their way,
And they'd pray! And they'd pray! And they'd PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!
Then they'd stand close together, with their church bells ringing,
They'd stand hand in hand, and they all would start singing!
And the more the Grinch thought of the town's Christmas Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
Why, for too many years I've put up with it now!
I must stop this Christmas from coming? But how?"

Then he got an idea.
An awful idea.
The Grinch had a sinfully awful idea!

"I'll pretend that I'm Santa and steal all their toys,
And steal all the joy from the girls and the boys!"
So he called his dog Max and he loaded a sleigh
With some bags and some sacks, and he went on his way.
With Max as his reindeer, he went down through the air,
And soon came to the first little house on the square.
Then, breaking the tough window pane with a rock,
He reached on inside, and he opened the lock.
"This is too easy!" the fake Santa hissed,
As he tiptoed inside with a curl in his fist.
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
He reached under the tree, and he took every present!
He took all the ornaments off of the tree,
And pitched the tree out with a smile of glee.
Then he made his way to the Nativity scene,
He smashed all the figures - and wiped the place clean.
He was just getting ready to smash God's own Son,
When he listened real closely - he then heard someone!

"Who's there?" he asked slickly, and spun with a whirl,
And there stood by the doorway a small Faithville girl.
"Santa, what are you doing?" she asked. "Who are you?"
The Grinch said to the girl, with no clue what to do.
"My name is Christina, and why are you taking
The sweet baby Jesus, whom you're nearly breaking?"

"He's coming apart," the Grinch said as a lie,
"I'm taking him back to my shop, and that's why.
I'm fixing him up and I'll bring him back here,"
said the Grinch to Christina, who slowly walked near.
So the Grinch pulled the wool over Christina's eyes
with his Santa Claus suit and his cleverest lies.
Christina came near, the Grinch patted her head,
but was taken aback at the next thing she said.

"Dear God, I am thankful that every year,
You send Santa to help us remember you're here.
And God, I am thankful for that night you gave your
Great Son and his light to become our great Savior."

And when she had finished, the Grinch was then crying,
And he sent her to bed, then he kept up his spying.
He took the Lord Jesus and smashed him to pieces,
He packed it all up, and he made his releases!
And the one piece of Jesus he left in the house,
Was his big toe, yet it was too small for a mouse.

Then he robbed all the rest of the small Faithville houses,
Leaving pieces too small for most all of the mouses!
Then, at quarter till dawn, he went up to Mount Crumpet,
With all of their stuff! He was ready to dump it!
When he came to the top it was getting quite light,
And he stopped his old sleigh and he hitched it up tight.
He jumped off the sleigh and he went to the ledge,
And stood looking expectantly over the edge.

"The people of Faithville," he said with a sneer,
"Know that Christmas will just not be coming this year!
They're wailing and moaning and shedding a tear!
That's a noise," said the Grinch, "that I wish I could hear!"

And he did hear a sound, rising over the snow,
It started in low. Then it started to grow...
But this sound wasn't tearful!
Why, it sounded quite cheerful!
Everyone down in Faithville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his feet very cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so?
They sing without presents! They sing without toys!
They sing, though I thought I had stolen their joys!
He puzzled and puzzed till his green fur turned red,
Then that old Grinch remembered what Christina said.

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe it's about Jesus, it's me he came for!"

And what happened next?
Well, in Faithville they say
That the Grinch's heart grew a lot larger that day!
He rode down to the square and brought back what he'd stole,
and he joined all of Faithville in praise as a whole!
Then he went to the manger and beside it he knelt,
As he praised the Lord Jesus for the peace he now felt.
He hugged young Christina (who'd known all along),
And he joined her in prayer, and in love, and in song.
And wherever he went, he repeated the call
That Jesus himself....
Jesus came for us all!


  • As for performing "The Great Christmas Robbery", it can be done a number of ways. Playing the complete audio file, with people lip-syncing the dialogue as they act it out in mime, could work. Or you could actually act out and deliver the lines as someone else reads the narrator's part.
  • If you are having an actor play the Grinch, whether he is delivering his lines or merely lip-syncing to the audio file, you can address his motions in several ways: you could go all out and have a set, even with a sled and other props, or you could do it simply, and have the Grinch actor mime his motions. 
  • When you perform this, I believe the fact that Christina is a child is more important than the fact that she's female. Thus, if you have no little girls to portray the role, I'd rather you change Christina to a little boy than have an older girl (13 or older) portray the role. In short, Christina needs to be played by someone 12 or under, even if you have to change her to a boy. Her innocence as a child must show. Said actor can do their own lines as the act, or lip-sync to the audio file. They should come back to interact with the Grinch at the end.
  • As for involving more characters than just the Grinch, the narrator, Max the Dog, and Christina, you could: 1) Split up the narrator part between several people; 2) Have a large number of people act as the people of Faithville, singing; or 3) Have 1-4 angels come in and surround the Grinch as he is "born again". 
  • You could also involve children by having the story read from the script by a narrator who is sitting in front of a tree and telling the story to a group of children. Their imaginations cause them to see the action as it happens and the actors come out and mime the parts as the story is read to the children. There is no lip-syncing, but all the voices and parts are done by the person reading the story.
  • Earlier I mentioned that Christina can be gender-flipped if you have no girls 12 or under to play the role. The Grinch, too, can be gender-flipped into a female - all you have to do is change the pronouns.
  • As for costumes, the Grinch should be dressed like the Grinch, either the animated 1967 Grinch from the NBC-TV special or Jim Carrey's Grinch from the 2000 live-action Ron Howard movie. Christina should, however, NOT be dressed like Cindy Lou Who. Although her role in the story mimics that of Cindy Lou in the original, she and the other people of Faithville should not be dressed like Whos. They should be dressed like real people. This is what sets it apart from the TV classic. It represents human characters and what would happen if the Grinch lived on Earth instead of "just north of Whoville."
  • If you feel the need to change any of the passages, leave your queries in the comments.

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