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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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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

Autumn Amore’

This post originally appeared on Lefty Pop’s site.  My, my, my do I miss my politically charged brothers and sisters.

Fall is upon us and I have to tell ya, I couldn’t be any freaking happier.  This is the time of year I live for.  Spring is great and all, summer means days spent by the pool, and winter, well winter sucks except for Christmas.  But Fall, glorious Fall is always welcomed with a smile and a hoodie laden hug.  Why is it so superior to any other season?  Peruse the list below and prepare to profess your Autumn amore.

fall

The weather, naturally.

The air gets a little crisp and it’s just chilly enough to break out a hoodie even if you wear it with a pair of shorts.  My hair chills the eff out and behaves; no more frizzies or sweaty hair stuck to my neck.  My t-zone doesn’t look like a BP disaster.  And being outside is no longer tolerable, it’s desirable.  In fact, I find myself looking for a reason to be outside and just, well, be outside.

Football

So I’m not really “into” football.  I dig supporting a team and I do pseudo enjoy watching. But what I really love is the trappings of football:   beer, sports bars, parties, finger foods, and a damn good excuse to be outside.  There’s only one thing that can ruin this love – the evil that is fantasy football.  Dear God, make it stop.  Football gets old after watching every game, every game highlight, every game commentary session, and then all of the shows dedicated to kicking ass at fantasy football.  With that much effort, you should just start a football league and I don’t know, actually play football.

Pumpkin everything.

Who would have thunk that pumpkin would be the new bacon?  It’s gone far beyond the coveted Starbucks latte and a few basic candles.  Now it’s in everything.  Hersey Kisses, beer, donuts.  Shit, there’s probably someone making a bacon wrapped, pumpkin spice something at this moment.  And guess what?  I love it all!  It seems like you can never have too much pumpkin, but we may want to chill out a bit before this thing jumps the shark.  I went to Bath and Body Works yesterday and there were no less than 15 different types of pumpkin candle.  And that’s on top of the 10 Fall varieties.  I only bought a few…dozen.

Fires.

I love a backyard fire more than almost any other option for a Friday or Saturday night.  In fact, I love them so much that I had one during the summer.  It was like sitting in a sweat lodge and I ended up having to bring the mop bucket out to douse it, but I was ready and I wasn’t going to let a little 85 degree weather stand in my way.  I have my fire pit cleaned and ready and a box of duraflames stocked.  Now I just need to add beers and buds.

Halloween.

Costumes, candy, and all things spooky.  I love it all.  Give me a bowl of candy corn and throw on a horror movie marathon.  I’ll never be too old to rock a great costume.

Leaves.

Oh look at all the beautiful red and orange and yellow!  Wait, now they’re just covering my deck.  Get the leaf blower!  There, that’s better.  Just going to grab a drink from the house real quick.  Damn it, my deck is covered in leaves again.  Get the leaf blower!  Maybe the leaves actually belong in the Autumn ‘con’ column.

I know this Fall fantasy world won’t last.  Soon we’ll be facing another snowpacolypse and freezing our faces off.  But right now, it’s perfect.  So meet me ’round the campfire.  We’ll don our hoodies, share a pumpkin beer,  discuss your fantasy football strategy (I’ll convince you I’m listening), and we can workshop your Halloween costume ideas.

Happy Fall y’all!

-Melissa

 

Karate Kid and Its Life Lessons Turn 30

Here’s a post that originally appeared on Lefty Pop back in June.  Given the life lessons to be learned from 80s gems such as Karate Kid, I thought it prudent to post it here as well.  So read on and remember, “You’re the best around.  Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down.”

In a continuing effort to shove me into old age, time insists on marching on.  Everyday some relic of my childhood hits a milestone and I’m forced to think, “Holy shit, I guess that was X years ago.”  Today’s ‘aha moment’ of aging is brought to me courtesy of LaRusso and Miyage.  That’s right, Karate Kid just turned 30.

Released in 1984, Karate Kid was a commercial success.  It even earned Noriyuki “Pat’ Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  It spawned a franchise that resulted in two sequels; unfortunately leading to a spin-off (The Next Karate Kid, 1994, with Hillary Swank) and then an unoriginal reboot (The Karate Kid, 2010, with Jaden “I’m only famous cause of my dad” Smith).  But the most important impact it made wasn’t at the box office, it was in the living rooms of 80s kids across the country.  While Daniel-san was learning karate, we were learning some important life lessons.

Sometimes assholes learn their lessons and change.

Johnny and his Cobra Kai chums really made Daniel’s experience as the new kid on the block a living hell. I mean, Daniel did kind of put the moves on his ex-girlfriend, but kicking his ass in front of the entire dojo and chasing him dressed as a skeleton seems a little harsh.  Johnny is a world-class bully.  But eventually, after receiving a crane kick to the chin, he admits defeat and declares ” “You’re all right, LaRusso! Good match!”  Even he wasn’t buying the no mercy bit at this point.

Manual labor builds character.

Having obligated him to a karate tournament against Cobra Kai in two months, Daniel assumes Mr. Miyagi is going to instantly jump into teaching him all of his awesome karate secrets.  Nope.  Apparently the secret to kicking-ass is doing all of Miyagi’s chores.  Wax-on, wax-off.  Wax-on, wax-off.  Bam, muscle memory!  While I don’t buy that Daniel’s YMCA level skills were instantly transformed by his Miyagi slavedom, the message of hard-work preceding success is a great lesson.

Do or do not.  There is no try.

Technically, Yoda taught us this lesson.  But Miyagi echoes it.  You must commit to something to be great. “Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [squish gesture] get squish just like grape.”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

“Get him a body bag! Yeah!”   It’s always embarrassing to lose after talking smack.  You look like an idiot Tommy.

Never let fear keep you from trying.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from trying.  “It’s okay to lose to an opponent.  It’s never okay to lose to fear.”

Never, ever give up.

During the tournament finals, Johnny is delivering a major beating upon Daniel.  It seems that all hope is lost.  Clearly he is outmatched.  When we hear sensei scream, “Sweep the leg!”, we hang our heads confident that LaRusso has failed.  But we’d forgotten about the crane.  Daniel musters his last bit of strength, somehow hypnotizes Johnny in his attempts to balance, and delivers a tournament ending, Cobra Kai face kick.  After witnessing this moment, I proceeded to don my USA Gold Medal replica (found in a box of Wheates) and perform karate moves all over the house.  He did it!  He won!

A theme song can make everything better.

Oh, the 80s and their theme songs.  You can’t present a montage without one.  And Karate Kid had one of the best….around.  Thanks Joe Esposito.

Marriage is Work & Other Wedding Faux Pas

It’s been just over a month since my wedding day.  I’m still in the process of changing my name (what a royal pain), getting thank-you notes out, and  figuring out how to hang framed pictures in my house without making it look like a shrine to me and Matt.  It’s crazy how quickly time speeds by.  Months spent planning gone in a blink and soon I’ll be celebrating my 1st anniversary and then my 50th.

I thought of spending this post in yet another moment of awe at just how amazing my wedding was, you know, pics and gushings and hopes of expectant brides just wishing they could get it that right.  Who knows, maybe I’ll still do that later.  But I need to come up for air and toss the proverbial bouquet.  What better way to send this precious moment off than by helping all mankind; a PSA of sorts to pave a brighter future for all those brides to be.

RSVP?  What’s that?

Color me shocked and amazed that I travel in a circle of folks who don’t do well with deadlines.  I get it, the cut-off date slipped your mind.    I can certainly understand that you may not have a stamp or want to fill in my address, so I did that for you.  Or maybe making that little check mark next to yes or no was just, well, too much.  So I am forced to hunt you down and demand an answer.  It’s starting to feel like maybe you don’t give a shit and my ego is awfully bruised.

Confession time, I’ve been this person.  Once.  And guess what, never again.  I now fully understand that RSVP isn’t a request, it’s a demand.  Don’t let the fancy French please fool you, those cards hold the entire balance of the wedding on their paper sharp edges.  Try dealing with vendors and setting a final budget when you don’t know if 50 or 250 people are showing up.

Your Yes = $.

You know how you said “OMG, can’t wait.  Super excited my plus one and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”?  Well that and the yes you checked caused me to put you in the attending column complete with your drinks and food and location overage costs and cake and….expectations of seeing your smiling faces.  I get that emergencies happen.  Sickness, car issues, and apparently  work issues plagued the universe that fateful weekend of the 14th.  But what of the folks who just didn’t bother to show or text or send a carrier pigeon offering apology for their no show?  That I don’t get.

Lesson- If you say yes, show up.  Or send some offering to excuse your absence.  Beer never hurts.  Neither does a hand written letter.  If you can’t come, say no.  It’s totally cool.  But you should still send beer.

Marriage is Work.

So the first two are just some shocking revelations that, had I really thought ahead about the nature of people, really aren’t so surprising.  I rant; I feel better; I pay the credit card off;  I move on.  This last one completely blind sided me.

“Phew! Let me just say, it’s a lot of hard work and a great deal of compromise!”

“I am SO happy you couldn’t be happier.  I felt so happy the first morning I woke up after being married to [name withheld]….things change.  LOL  Just kidding, but not really…”

“Marriage is hard.  Like really, really hard.  Sometimes you’ll wonder what the hell you were thinking.”

“Good luck.  You’ll need it.”

These are things people actually said to me either in their congratulatory messages or upon hearing I got married.  For real.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “marriage is work”.

First, how is this a message you think a newly wed wants to hear?  Unless you’re that married couple of 50 years from whom I’m soliciting a nugget of advice, a congrats, so happy for you, will suffice.  I mean, imagine this in any other circumstance:

New baby:  “Oh, he’s so cute.  Too bad you’ll end up hating him for large stretches of time.  Enjoy the next 18 years.  Congrats.”  or “Get ready for shitty diapers, puke, and constant crying.  Babies pretty much suck.  So happy for you.”

Birthday:  “You’re one step closer to the grave.  Seriously, you look like crap.  When did you get so many wrinkles.  Oh well, it only gets worse.  Enjoy your special day.”

New Home:  “Lovely place.  Hopefully you don’t lose your job and go into foreclosure.  Can I get a tour?”

New Job:  “Good luck.  You know most people don’t stick around a company for more than a few years and tons probably get fired in their first 90 days.  Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen to you.”

Also, no shit Sherlock.  Life is work.  Actually, I think it is more accurate to say marriage, life, a career or anything worth having takes EFFORT.  It’s a big distinction.  Work implies forced behavior; something you do begrudgingly.  Something you really shouldn’t have to do, but, well I guess since the universe decided you should be born not into royalty but a mere commoner, you’ll just have to deal with.  Pick the right career, hobby, partner–something/someone who truly matters in your life for more than a fleeting moment–and suddenly you may actually want to make an effort.  And that effort makes all the difference.  More effort may yield you less work.  Just a thought…

OK- dear readers, my lunch is finished and my rant is through.  Hopefully you’ve all learned something today.  Because knowledge really is power.  Feel free to share this PSA with those in your circle who are less endowed in the manners’ department.  You may just save someone some grief…or at least keep a friend from being the subject of blogging fodder from a small time writer wanna be.

Cheers!

View More: http://christenbarnes.pass.us/melissa--matt

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