Five for Friday: My 5 Favorite Christmas Movies

It’s that time of year again.  My house has so many lights that Clark himself would be jealous;  everything smells of evergreen; and the my playlists normally dedicated to rock start to give way to a bit of holiday cheesiness.  Everything about Christmas is wonderful, but without a doubt, one of the very best things about the holiday season is Christmas movies.  Here are my top five that must be watched each December.

 

The 5 Best Christmas Films of All Time (according to me)

Number 5:  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

This one is near and dear to my heart,  because I can totally relate to Clark on the light obsession.  It’s never enough.  Ever.  Each year I just keep buying more and more lights.  I’ve been eyeballing the house that went all out for Halloween each time I drive through the neighborhood.  I told Matt, “Don’t think I won’t just keep running out to Home Depot every time they put more up.”  I’m throwing down the gauntlet people.  They WILL NOT outdo us!

Christmas-Vacation-Clark-Griswold-Lights

Number 4:  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

My favorite of the Christmas Classics.  I love his little squeeky nose.  I love Hermey.  I love Yukon Cornelius.  Hell, I even love the Abominable Snow Man.  This one takes me right back to being a kiddo.

rudolph

Number 3:  A Christmas Story (1983)

You know why Ted Turner plays this thing for 24 hours straight?  Because we’ll watch it for all 24 hours.  I just turn on the TV and let it cycle over and over.  Somehow I always see to walk in on the part where the dogs are stealing the turkey.

You really can’t pick one best scene from this festive gem.  Don’t even try.

ralphie

Number 2:  Home Alone (1990)

Keep the change, ya filthy animal!  This one ranks number one on my Mom’s list.  She’s obsessed with this little prankster.  I tend to cry at least every other showing because of the old man and his grand daughter.  Old people and animals, they get me every time.

kevin

Another connection to this film,  I’ve had far too many people to count say to me, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like the Mom from Home Alone?”  Yes, yes they have.  Maybe I should do a list of the 5 “hey you look like’s” I’ve gotten over the years.  I always fail to see the connection.

Are you ready for #1?!  What could it be?  Surely it is something on everyone’s top 3, right?  An obvious classic?

 

Number 1:  Gremlins (1984)

Yeah, I see that your jaw just dropped and some of you are shaking your heads.  But this is my #1 folks!  Matt will argue for the rest of our lives that this isn’t a Christmas movie, but I say, hell yes it is!

Does it take place at Christmas?  Yep.

gizmo

Are Christmas and Christmas related accessories apparent throughout the movie? Uh-huh.

Christmas_Tree_Gremlingremlins_1984_introducing_mrs_deagle

Is there Christmas music?  Sure is.

gremlin-carols

This is also on my list of top 80s flicks.  I’ve blogged about it before in 5 Things 80s Movies Taught Me About Life.

Christmas. Have a nice flight Mrs. Deagle.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Scrooged (1988)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)

 

What are your faves?

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

 

 

 

Great New Albums for November 2014

All of the top songs and albums posts for 2014 are descending upon us.  And guess what, most of them are crap.  Check out the top Rock Artists of 2014 according to Billboard.  Granted, there are some great rock acts on this list, but in what universe is Lorde considered rock?  And how in the living hell did she top acts like Foo Fighters, Jack White, and Arctic Monkeys?  Also, why am I surprised?  A mainstream list like what Billboard provides is never going to satisfy me.  So on I march making my own lists.  Here are some listen-worthy albums from November.  Stay tuned for my obligatory 2014 lists coming soon.

Dels- Petals Have Fallen

New rap that I like?  It does exist!  This English born rapper, graphic designer, and filmmaker creates music that harkens back to raps heyday.  If you’re a fan of Jurassic 5, The Roots, or Mos Def, give him a listen.  With connections to acts like Hot Chip, you can’t go wrong.

 

Also check out:  RGB,  Shapeshift (earlier album)

 

Ormonde- Cartographer/Explorer

Like St. Vincent?  Fan of Indie Folk and Pop?  This is your album for November.  This isn’t get out of your seat and dance music, but if you’re looking for a soundtrack to chill, they have your number.

Also check out:  A Grande Design, Lemon Incest (earlier album)

 

Circa Survive- Descensus

Heavy at one moment and melodic at others, Circa Survive has a sound all their own.  My attraction to the band lies cleanly in the vocals of Anthony Green.  Dig his high pitched, odd voice.

Also check out:  Schema

 

Foo Fighters- Sonic Highways

Really I didn’t even need any other albums on the list for November.  Because, let’s be honest, I listened to this one like it was my job.  Perfection.  The only complaint I have is it’s only 8 songs.  That’s almost an EP!  I love the story behind the album and the docu-series of the same name on HBO was fantastic.  A must listen and a must watch if you’re a fan of music history and well, music in general.

Also check out:  Something From Nothing, Subterranean, and In the Clear…damn, just listen to the entire album.

 

Happy listening!

new music

The Original Catfish

Here’s the final of my reposts from my old writing home, Lefty Pop.  So long Lefty Pop.  I bid you one final adieu! 

Ahh Catfish, I just can’t quit you.  I feel the need to place myself in the ultimate voyeur seat (my couch) and watch weekly as person after person is shocked that people pretend to be someone other than themselves on the the internet.   It’s like watching a wreck in slow motion, you know it’s going to end badly and it’s going to be painful to watch, but you just can’t look away.

Catfish airs weekly on MTV and is the brainchild of Nev Schulman.  Nev originally presented his first story of catfishing (he was the victim) in his hit documentary of the same title.  Each week we get a chance to peer in the lives of a “couple” existing almost entirely via text messages and IM.  Sometimes there is an occasional phone call (gasp, what primitive technology), but very seldom is there any face-to-face, real time correspondence (via Skype or Facetime).  So, inevitably what you end up with is one authentic person and one catfish.  Catfish recently made it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and is defined as:  a person who sets up a false social networking profile for deceptive purposes.

But the concept of catfishing has been around a lot longer than Facebook, Twitter, or even Myspace.  The Bible is full of deception, especially the female variety.  Shakespeare was using the power of deception back in the 1500s (see Much Ado About Nothing). And modern cinema loves this story line.  Check out some of my favorite fictional characters who started relationships hiding behind a facade.

 

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996)

The not so conventionally beautiful, yet quite smart, Abby (Janeane Garofalo) convinces the very pretty, but not bright, Noelle (Uma Thurman) to pretend to be her to win the affections of a guy.  Love triangle and high-jinx ensue.  As is the case with most 90s rom-coms, a happy ending full of quirk and nonsense is inevitable.  In this case, a dog shows up at Abby’s work with a bag containing roller skates which she dons and is then taken via dog leash on a ride through the park to her soul mate.

 

cats

There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Ted embarrasses himself during a prom pick-up when his junk gets stuck in his zipper and misses out on the girl of his dreams, Mary.  Years later he decides she’s the one that got away and goes after her.  Too bad she has a host of other not so honest suitors.  There’s the PI Ted hired, Healy, who lies, cheats, stalks, and even drugs a dog to be close to Mary.  Then there is the British, disabled Tucker who turns out to be an able-bodied American pizza delivery boy.  And finally there is Dom who exposes Ted’s whole involvement in the messy plot, but then turns out to be Mary’s weirdo ex Woogie who “got weird on her” back in high school and stole all her shoes.  Faced with all these wonderful choices in suitors, Mary chooses Ted.  Shocker, happy ending.

mary

Babe (1995)

“That pig thinks it’s a dog.”  Ultimately Babe the pig’s dog-like skills and sheep herding performances keep him out of the frying pan as he forges a relationship with the farmer.  So, again, happy ending.

 

babe

 

 

And who are your favorite pop culture catfish?

An Open Letter to Parents

This post originally appeared over at Lefty Pop.  But it’s a PSA which warrants repeating.

 

Dear Parenting Dynamo,

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but there are other people who must share this planet with you and your offspring.  We are walking on the same sidewalks, shopping in the same stores, and standing in the same lines.  And while little Brently’s unruliness may be cute to just slightly annoying to you, trust me, it’s damn near unbearable for others.

kids

Hey, can you get off your phone for a quick sec?  Over here, good, now focus for a moment.  You see your daughter over there?  She’s shoving through people like a running back.  I’m pretty sure that lady over there just winced in pain as she stamped on her sandled foot.  And her high-pitched caterwauling is interrupting that couple’s quiet conversation.  And…..yep, you’re back to texting as your hellions run wild.

It makes sense to me now, really it does.  How would your child possibly have learned manners with you as a parent?  You clearly never learned to use your inside voice either.  This line here, it’s here for a reason.  You don’t have some sort of super privilege that allows you direct access to the front.  But thanks for passing on that lack of situational awareness to your spawn as well.  He’s all set to piss off the next generation of manner equipped citizens.

Do not  touch.  Maybe he can’t read yet or maybe he thinks the rules don’t apply to him, but either way, your young-in damn near just pulled that exhibit down.  And while I wouldn’t mind watching him get a good scolding from a staff member,  I’m sure it somehow would have been the fault of the aquarium and not your angel.  After all, accountability is taught, and well, you clearly aren’t one for giving lessons.

If it were just you, I’d probably be ok with your lack of actual parenting.  But you’re not alone.  There are now dozens of distracted and entitled guardians roaming about these days.  You’re inflicting your shoddy parenting and basic life skills on us all.  I gotta be honest, I can’t stand your kid.  But after seeing his role model, I totally despise you.

Sincerely,

Heading into this bar for a beer.

 

PS (for my readers)- Before I get the “you don’t have kids, you don’t understand” hate mail, let me say I write this as a former kid myself.  Yep, I’m completely qualified to make the statements above because I know an alternative exists. As a child, I knew how to act when I went out in public.  I knew how respect others.  I knew better.   Less Candy Crush and more parenting please.

 

Love is Love

 

26 days. In 26 days I marry the love of my life and perfect match. Right now I’m a bundle of giddiness, excitement, anxiety (putting on a wedding is an insane undertaking), and warm fuzzies. This experience from moment one has truly been magical. Love does that to you. It touches every aspect of your life and makes it better. Way better. The funny thing about true love is that it catches you by surprise. You’re not looking for it and then bam, slap to the face. It’s a real wakeup call. It’s like someone comes along and shakes the cobwebs from your mind and shows you what life should really be like.

Not to discount previous relationships, but this is just, different. It’s like Digiorno compared to your favorite pizza spot (you can tell I’m writing this at lunch). Both are good. Both will get you through, satisfy your need for sustenance. But only one is what you truly wanted. Only one will you rave about to all of your friends. And the funny thing is if you’d only eaten frozen pizza all your life, you’d believe that was the be all and end all of pizza. Then one night your friends take you to Antico and you think, “Okay, this is pizza! I’m not sure what that other stuff was. This is the real deal. I want to eat this for the rest of my life.” Enough with the pizza. I think I’ve made my point. I’m in love.

Here’s the crazy part, I’d written off marriage. I’m not sure I even believed in it. In my mind it added nothing to the equation; it didn’t change the commitment. I was the one spouting off rhetoric about it being an outdated practice and a broken system. Then true love happened. And suddenly it was all I could think about. I wanted this man in my life forever. I wanted others to realize how serious we are. I wanted my love to be certified! And here’s where a nagging thought entered my mind. It started out as a passing, “ugh, jeez, that really sucks” and grew into moments of tearing up and getting seriously pissed. My thought was this, my best friend can’t experience this; at least not in the way I can. And guess what, he’s there. He’s right there with me on this wonderfully amazing emotional roller coaster. He loves his boyfriend. I mean loves, like head tilts and shrugs, like aches with distance, like the completion of a puzzle. He’s in it. He’s found the one. This guy, he’s amazing. He makes my best friend so happy. He levels out his anxiety. He makes him listen to 90s rock (awesome). He is the one my best friend deserves. Too bad they live in Tennessee. Too bad when that magic moment arrives they can’t even choose to get married where they’ve built their lives. Too bad this, the most important moment of their lives, can’t be spent at home.

Imagine that, because I have, over and over again over the last few months. I’ve always been pro-equality. Love is love. Everyone deserves to feel this way. Everyone deserves to have their love recognized, accepted, validated. Because yes, their love is not minimized in their minds by this bigotry, but it deserves to be celebrated! Brett deserves to haggle with caterers and florists. He deserves to pick colors and handle seating arrangements. He deserves his moment of bliss that launches a lifetime of happiness. And he deserves to do it wherever he damn well pleases WITH a legally recognized marriage license in hand.

Brett will be there by my side in 26 days when I take my stroll down the aisle. Bradley will be there looking on as his future husband likely cries while he watches his best friend get married. I want nothing more than to blubber on his special day. It sucks that that will mean traveling to one of the 19 states that have finally come to their senses. Now that’s some serious food for thought.

Love-is-love-blog-picture-680x680

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees…2035

This post originally appeared over at my old writing hub, Lefty Pop.  Given the largely musical space of my personal blog, I thought it a great candidate for reposting.  Enjoy!
The list of 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees is out.

There are rockers of all sorts:  punk, progressive, new wave, and industrial.  We have our now standard rap nomination as well as some R&B.  Missing this year are the acts who would be considered early influencers, those groups who tend to bleed together for me in an amalgam of doo wop and matching suits and have names that always begin with “The” as in, The Comets, The Crickets.  Replacing these acts are a few disco nods.  After reviewing the list, one may be inclined to wonder,  if all of these acts qualify, what the hell is Rock & Roll?

Rock and Roll:  noun a type of popular dance music originating in the 1950s, characterized by a heavy beat and simple melodies. Rock and roll was an amalgam of black rhythm and blues and white country music, usually based on a twelve-bar structure and an instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums.

So pretty much anything.  Because all music has its roots firmly planted in something that could be found in this description.  Arguably all music genres have some influence on others, but I hate to think that lately it’s to our detriment. For example, T-Pain planted some sort of junk music seed with his auto-tune that has grown like kudzu all across the airwaves.  Even country, supposedly the purest of the song-spinning sects hasn’t been immune.  So if it’s all about what was big on the charts, what does that mean for the 50 something year old me?

I wonder…

Here are your nominees for 2035:

Taylor Swift:  Predominantly known for influencing an entire movement of white girl, breakup songs set to sloppy guitar strumming, Taylor managed to remain on the Top 40 charts well into her 40s.  But as her original fans found themselves unable to find the motivation to continue to shake it off whilst balancing a challenging career and successful relationship, her popularity waned.  Now a successful producer of this decade’s resurgence of boy bands (most notably Swifty’s Sweeties and Solo Course), her influence on the industry inexplicably continues.

Nickelback:  Popular for lyrics which require zero interpretation and are repeated over and over again in an easy to memorize succession, this Canadian band soared to new heights as the children of millennials latched onto their parents misguided CDs purchases and forgotten iPod playlists from the early 2000s and termed them classic rock.  Nickleback tshirts started to be featured in Target and their old album sales spiked.  Chad Kroger opened this year’s Grammy podcast with a cover of “Photograph” featuring North West.

Rose Serbert (previously known as Ke$ha):  Rose gained respect after disappearing from the spotlight for a decade (rumored to be spent living on a commune in Montana), and then rebranding herself as a new wave folk act.  Her new offering combined 1980s synth with the hipster folk of the mid teens (2013-2016).  Though she’s fought hard to shed ties to famous white girl party anthems like “Tic Tok”, cougars covered in glitter, sporting vintage grills still sometimes make an appearance at her shows.

Skrillex:  After completing a series of complicated surgeries in the early 20s to fully become an actual Transformer, he released his long anticipated and biggest selling album to date, “Grindy Squeeling Blender Sex”.  This release launched the world’s longest ongoing EDM festival to date.  Skrillex’s set on the festival’s main stage set a world record when it lasted for a month straight and featured one never ending track.

Imagine Dragons:  Somehow this once indie rock band from Las Vegas are still touring on their 2012 release “Night Visions”.  Their track “Radioactive” has been featured in over 35,000 different commercials, movies, and shows.  Rumored release of their sophomore album is early 2036.

Florida Georgia Line:  Credited with the final demise of the genre once known as Country after releasing their 2020 album “Dirt Road Truck Girl Part 3:  Cruising Again”, this power couple switched gears and re-branded themselves as rock.  They’ve most recently been opening for Nickelback on their “Here We Go Again” tour.

Jack White:  Because credibility matters.  And also the death threats from 50 and 60 somethings are getting old.  You’re welcome old people.

With the demise of the radio and the ever growing music streaming services, it’s hard to imagine where the industry will end up.  But hey, it’s what sells records, or downloads, or whatever it is that allows actual musicians to make some actual money off of their art these days.  And who knows, maybe just like Africka Bambaataa grew “Planet Rock” out of Kraftwerk’s beats and started a music movement, one day a new music pioneer will find a gem in an Iggy Azalea track and launch an entirely new sound. But I’m not holding my breath.

rock

Running: An Exploration of Ego and Musical Landscapes

I’ve always enjoyed running.  I can’t really go so far as to say I love it.  It’s more realistic to call it a love/hate relationship.  Some of the reasons it’s pleasurable are also the reasons it can be miserable.  You never win at it really.  You can always go farther.  Or faster.  But it’s reliable.  It’s that friend who meets you every morning with an encouraging gesture and a boost to your ego only to kick you to the curb in 45 minutes when she’s had her fill of your company.  It’s hard more times than it’s easy, but yet I keep coming back.  Because every once in a while you have a day where you do win.  You set a challenge for yourself and then kill it.  And it’s enjoyable and almost, dare I say it, fun.  Today was one of those days.  Maybe it was a good night of sleep or maybe it was the fact that my playlist just kicked ass, but I had a great run.  I launched head on into my day ready to conquer the entire world.

So I thought I’d share my playlist for today.  Because running aside and second only to my husband and dog,  is my love for music (if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog).  Anything good is made great with a soundtrack.  Life needs it and running, at least for me anyway, damn near requires it.    Maybe you can tie up your sneaks and take it for a test drive; universe willing, you too will have an awesome run.

*Small disclaimer, some days I run to a created playlist I’ve painstakingly curated, but mostly I hit shuffle and go where the musical road may lead.  Today was a shuffle kinda day and as you’ll soon see (again, if you’re not a consistent reader of this blog), my musical tastes are all over the highway.

The Cult- Coming Down (1994)

Origene- Sanctuary (2003)

Metallica-  For Whom the Bell Tolls  (1984)

The Limousines- Undercover  (2013)

Ted Nugent-  Motor City Madhouse (1975)

Foo Fighters-  Dear Lover (1997)

Nirvana- Downer (1989)

Full Service- Greetings (2013)

Band of Skulls-  Wanderluster (2012)

Joe Jackson-  Breaking Us in Two (1982)

Dropkick Murphys-  I’m Shipping Up to Boston (2005)

Perry Farrell-  100 Ways (1996)

Goldfinger-  My Girlfriend’s Shower (1996)

Dirty Projectors-  Two Doves (2009)

The Inmates-  Dirty Water (1979)

Cypress Hill-  How I Could Just Kill a Man (1991)

Leftfield-  A Final Hit (2005)

The Four Tops-  I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) (1965)

Douglas Armour-  The Whole World (2008)

The White Stripes-  Hotel Yorba (2001)

music-for-running-620x620

Happy trails and tunes!  Let me know how your run went.

Stay positive and love your life.

-Melissa

The Gruesome Gastronome

Come on a journey with me, The Gruesome Gastronome, as I explore and muse poetic on gastronomy, the macabre, art, rants, raves & the absurdity of daily life.

Such Small Hands

Searching for Purpose and Finding Grace

Ambling & Rambling

Scattered thoughts and general musings

writeamuck

words are just breadcrumbs to get us back to where we're from

International House of Geek

Come hungry. Leave geeky.

polysyllabic profundities

Random thoughts with sporadically profound meaning

The Doctor's Couch

Hiatus: Time off.

Must Be This Tall To Ride

I'm a single dad documenting his journey. A guy trying to walk a higher path. And messing up. A lot.