The Great Indoors

Repeat these words, if you would:   It's the most wonderful time of the year. You know you want to sing the line aloud. If you're alone, why not whistle? The melody is more contagious than a poultry virus and about as much fun. George Wylie, who co-wrote the carol for the Andy Williams Show, has an even more excruciating claim to fame: He penned the theme for Gilligan's Island. To its credit, that little chantey will clear your head of "The Most Wonderful Time"—the same way you can rid your house of mice by coating it with napalm.

Here in our tedious, frozen flatlands, the most wonderful time of the year can feel a lot like that three-hour tour. Winter is an endless, dumb insult against the senses, an unfunny comedy played by a cast of fools. To our fellow castaways, then, we dedicate this winter issue of City Pages.

While the Professor may have struggled to build a primitive radio out of coconut husks, we're counting on the fact that you've got a working television and a DVD player. When you're not keeping toasty in front of the Yule log, you may want to burn a few hours with the TV series we've reviewed (opposite), which are newly available on DVD. Once you've given Netflix your credit card number—or your 401k account—you might queue up a few of our favorite frostbitten movies ("Hell on Ice"). If you'd like to be able to pretend that you know what's going on outside your bunker— you know, in case someone calls—you may find our winter media guide (see siderbar at right!) to be of some small use.

Surely, there are some cheery, deranged souls who are still humming about parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting, and caroling out in the snow. Maybe the irony gene is recessive. For those hardy few who plan to leave the house between now and May, we offer a fat, happy compendium of things to do that don't involve moldering on the couch in the same pair of rancid sweatpants. Nut-cracking Nutcrackers and the National Lutheran Choir and the Minnesota Aquarium Tropical Fish Show. You know—that kind of thing. Tidings of the season is what they're called. As you may have heard, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

 
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