Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Helped My Sister Move

My sister's family is moving this weekend. Yes, they're moving the weekend before Christmas. Yes, they realize they're insane (although, I don't think they realize how insane they are).

Let me first say that my sister is actually incredibly organized when it comes to clothing. She separates out all the different size baby clothes for her son and packs away the not-yet-needed very neatly for the future (after washing). I've only seen one other person ever store as much clothing in a closet as my sister managed to do. However, she got a weird "no need to pack that- we'll just throw it in the trailer on moving day!" and "we can't pack that, we'll need that before we move!" mentality that didn't seem to be budging, no matter how close to Moving Day she got.

So, last night I went over to help pack a couple boxes and also entertain some children when I wasn't helpful at deciding what got packed with what. But I quickly hit her "You can't pack that yet!" wall. And finally decided that she was insane when she told me that fact while we were in the kitchen, looking at her packed kitchen cabinets.

Me: "No one is making pancakes for breakfast tomorrow or Saturday. I'm packing the pancake mix."
Her: "We might!"
Me: "I just looked in your freezer. You have toaster strudel, hash browns, and breakfast sausage in there- no need for pancakes."
Her: "Fiiiine."
Me: "And are you going to need seven boxes of spaghetti in the next two days?"
Her: "We might have that for dinner tomorrow."
Me: "Seven boxes worth?"
Her: "We like a lot of choices."
Me: "Wouldn't it make more sense to have something from the freezer?"

I opened the freezer to reveal a bevy of food packed in, in addition to the items I mentioned earlier.

Her: "... We also have the whole deep freeze in the garage still packed."
Me: "So, I can pack up your kitchen cabinets. Great!"
Her: "But not the oatmeal! We eat that every day!"
Me: "Three different boxes worth of oatmeal every day?"
Her: "...No, just the brown sugar and maple."
Me: "And how much do you plan on eating in the next day and a half?"
Her: "Leave two packs in the cabinet?"
Me: "Okay, that's progress."

I couldn't get her to pack up the Pizza Pizzazz, however, no matter how much I tried to point out that she could just use the oven or microwave for a day.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My 2013 Christmas Episode Recommendation List

I may despise Christmas, but I love a good Christmas special! However, as I've gotten older and more bitter, I've soured on a few aspect. The whole "It was really Santa!" angle is one I can't stand anymore. So, don't expect to see many of those in there (one may slip in)

Rocko's Modern Christmas

 Rocko's Modern Life is possibly my favorite NickToon from the 90s. And I adore this Christmas special so much. The elves are great characters (it's a bit of a shock that they didn't become recurring characters before the show ended) and the bathroom gag of the cloud being incapable of producing snow kept me laughing as a child. But the thing I love the most? That ear-worm of a song that one of the elves' toys keeps playing. I swear that it showed up in a Christmas flash video game I played in the early 2000s, but I can't find any evidence to prove that.

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

 Shouldn't every Christmas involve being haunted by Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner and tricked into taking part in a murder-suicide? No? Well, you need to see this episode of The X-Files, then. Mulder and Scully investigate a haunted house on Christmas Eve and get wrapped up in the head games that the ghosts play. It's possibly the creepiest Christmas special out there and also one of the most emotionally confusing. But it's also great!

Arnold's Christmas

Oh, the limitations of the internet- the best video I could find to support this special was a trivia one about the episode. My other favorite NickToon, Hey Arnold, picked up the gauntlet that Charlie Brown threw down and created one of the most bittersweet animated Christmas specials ever. This might even be my favorite ever episode of the show, to be honest. I love Arnold and Gerald's commitment to getting the archivist's Christmas gifts. I love Helga's journey with her Nancy Spumoni snowboots. And the whole Mr. Hyuhn storyline is just... sob. A little corny, but a great touch to add some realism like the Vietnam War to an otherwise wacky background character. Jim Lang's music is pitch-perfect (as is usually the case with the jazz-infused show) and it creates a nice little urban fairy tale that doesn't involve Santa or "Christmas Miracles" that are beyond explaining.

Forgiveness and Stuff

Oh, Gilmore Girls. The first twenty episodes of Gilmore Girls might be the most perfect 20 episodes of television ever. And this episode is no exception. In the aftermath of Rory accidentally falling asleep (super innocently!) with Dean after a school dance, Rory and Lorelai aren't talking much and Lorelai and Emily are almost back to where they were before the series started. But then Grandpa Gilmore falls ill at the fancy dinner party and the family is reunited and talking to each other as they wait to find out his fate at the hospital. As the kids say these days, "this episode has all the feels". You get Luke having his grinch-y ways melted away to reveal his inner sweetness multiple times in the episode, Lorelai and Luke having their first major will-they-won't-they moments, Emily pulling her best Debra Winger, a Jane Lynch cameo, and Lorelai and Richard having a very emotional moment with no words that should've won a gazillion Emmys. Even though it's technically the second part of a two parter, this is an episode that is a great watch even if you know nothing of the show- it tells you everything you need to know about the characters all on its own.

The Christmas Invasion

Shut up. You knew this was coming. Killer Christmas Trees! Stalking Santas! The Doctor defeating an invading race of aliens while wearing a pair of pajamas! Snow that is actually the ash of a giant space ship burning up in the atmosphere as it falls to Earth! This also happens to be the first Christmas special in the current run of Doctor Who as well as the introduction of the 10th Doctor. And it does an amazing job of making you, by the end of the episode, completely on-board for this new cheeky-pin-striped-glasses-wearing Doctor.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Have Yourself A Very Specific Type of Christmas Movie...

Are you looking for Christmas movies to put you in a specific mood? Here are my top five choices:

1.Neo-Retro Leather and Blood on White Snow Christmas: Batman Returns

Not the Tim Burton movie most people will recommend for Christmas, but people tend to forget that Burton had a bit of an obsession with the holiday leading up to Nightmare Before Christmas, as both Batman Returns and Edward Scissorhands take place around Christmas time. I just love the tone that the holiday adds to the story for Batman Returns. An extra layer of beauty and tragedy via fresh white snow as a canvas for dead bodies and chaos to fall on. Plus, the great touch of that 1940s-era design that the two Burton-directed movies (as well as the Bruce Timm cartoon) had just adds to the classic Christmas vibe of it. The movie sometimes looks and feels like it could take place in the same universe as a Fred Astaire movie.

2. Stark Stylized Neon 80s Christmas: Less Than Zero

Just as Batman Returns mixes 1940s nostalgia with Christmas imagery, Less Than Zero slaps you in the face with the 80s and puts an obnoxious stark cold 1980s L.A. vibe all over Christmas and New Year's. Add in all the ridiculous opulence and the painful scenes of Robert Downey Jr's character being kicked out of his father's home just in time for Christmas... and you have a great movie to watch to appreciate what you have.

3. Small Town Falls to Crap Christmas: Gremlins

No music score says "Christmas" to me quite like that of Gremlins. It takes the idea of a Christmas movie set in a small town and turns it into a monster movie set in a small town. With a sing-along! And as someone who has worked a fair share of Christmas Eve's, I always appreciate Phoebe Cates's scene of serving drunk and crazy gremlins at the bar (while also always asking...why would you keep serving them?!). But I feel that Gremlins gets that "why am I supposed to be happy just because it's Christmas even though crappy things are happening?" mood perfectly.

4. Ruined Christmas in Chicago: While You Were Sleeping

Okay, here's a nice one that I like for the specific 1990s Chicago-flavored Christmas setting (yes, I'm picking this over any John Hughes Christmas movies). In the grand scheme of the Sandra Bullock oevre, I imagine that While You Were Sleeping falls more on the All About Steve side of things in the long run, because it's very odd when you rewatch it. It really goes the distance while trying to convince you and Bullock's Lucy that it's very important that she continue to pretend to be Peter's fiance. And while I can't say that the movie does a "good" job of making it seem like a good idea, it puts more effort into the issue than a rom-com from the 2000s ever would. It actually reminds me a lot of rom-com plots from the 30s and 40s- like Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Nevin, which also takes place around Christmas. But While You Were Sleeping is a little less disturbing (I could write a dissertation on Bachelor Mother, but that is for another post...).

5. People Are Insane Yet Apathetic During The Holidays: Brazil

Two of my three favorite movies take place at Christmas, so it was tough to make a call on which one should be on this list. But I choose Brazil because it's a lot less well-known compared to The Apartment. And really nails the mania that seems to take over people as Christmas gets closer and closer and how life just gets kind of weird for a couple weeks. My favorite thing might be the pointless "executive" gifts that Sam keeps encountering. But then there's just how you can be told "Happy Christmas" and "You're going to die" in the same breath in the world of Brazil. With the same amount of apathy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sad Snow Song

A lot of snow has fallen around here in the last 24 hours. All morning long, I kept checking the window, hoping that it had stopped.

It didn't.

So, my brain did to me what it normally does to me during snowy days. It put "As the World Falls Down" from Labyrinth in my head.

Yeah, I know it doesn't make much sense. But that's what gets stuck in my head on snowy days. Deal with it.

And, yes, a large part of me still wants to one day wear that dress and hairstyle to something.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How To Describe This Week:

Make a Baby Laugh Sunday

Too Much Time With the Parents Monday

Very Tired Tuesday

Social Awkward At A Party Wednesday

Near Death Experience Thursday

Somehow Finished Everything While Also Watching Movies At Work Friday

Hasn't Happened Yet Saturday

Hey, Let's Watch Crappy Movies At Work!

I was listening to/watching Pleasantville in the background today at work and it reminded me of how annoyed I am when Tobey McGuire puts make-up on Joan Allen so that no one knows that she's in color and it somehow also makes her eyes, hair, and inside of her mouth be black-and-white as well.

I'm also just generally annoyed by the wasted opportunities in the film. But, at the same time, realizing that it's an excellent film to watch to explain mild cases of Autism and Asperger's.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Back To Who: Harriet Jones

I have a theory that Harriet Jones did not actually die in The Stolen Earth but that a Weeping Angel got to her before the dalek blast got her and sent her back to early 20th century Yorkshire.

And somehow became convinced she was the widowed mother of Matthew Crowley.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back To Who: My Favorite Part of The Stolen Earth

Nope, it's not the return of any of the characters. It's not Rose Tyler and her giant gun. It's not even that Joss Whedon-style romantic comedy-turned-horror-movie ending.

It's when the Doctor and Donna are at the Shadow Proclamation and the Doctor asks to be shown the missing planets.

And rather than just running around the tables like a normal person, he feels the need to have one of his steps fall on the ottoman/seat in the middle of everything.

I have a theory that David Tennant asked for something to be put there to make his movement a little more interesting. If there's something for him to climb on, bounce off of, or walk on in an un-traditional way, he usually does (and that's probably how he got those terrible back problems around the time he did Hamlet for the RSC). But this seems to be the most poorly integrated attempt in the entire length of the series. That little ottoman is so out of place, on top of everything. All the other furniture is glass and steel and then there's this little pleather thing that looks like it could be bought in Target.

It does make the coat look great, though, I have to admit.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Face Wiped

So, I am a user of "facial towelettes", despite their un-eco-friendly ways. It's the only way I can clean my face after one job, put on new make-up for the evening job (ew, that makes me sound like a lady of the night and not a retail zombie), and then be able to make sure that my face is clean before I pass out into bed. Or, if I'm not on top of things enough to remove my make-up on the car ride home, I need the towelettes for the ride to work in the morning on the days where I wake up five minutes before stumbling into my car and need to remove all signs of racoon eyes and stray brow powder. Or, hell, sometimes it's to remove the last bit of whatever face mask I fell asleep with on and didn't remember until I pulled up to work and checked myself in the mirror.

There's no other way to easily wash my skin on the go. And without stupid towelettes, my skin goes to hell.

For a good two years, my go-to was the Yes To Cucumbers wipes that I could find at almost any Walgreens or Target. They were sensitive but effective.

Or, rather, they were. They disappeared from both stores for a few weeks over the summer and when they came back... my skin couldn't take it anymore. I can't figure out what it is in the ingredients that I'm reacting to, but I'm reacting to something with a lot of burning skin. I'm worried that it's the cucumber.

So, the search for a new brand began! I didn't like the generics from Target. I hated the Neutragena. I still like the Korres and Ole Henriksen wipes, but they're way too expensive.

I ended up settling on the Walgreens generic Ology "Gently Soothing" towelettes. They don't burn my skin, the packaging keeps them moist, and they can remove my waterproof eye liner better than anything- while somehow now burning my eyelids. The only real difference in ingredients, from what I can tell, is the lack of perfume. Which I haven't had an issue with in ages, but... sure. It also helps that they're really affordable.

At least I found something, though. I was about to resort to getting baby wipes to use on my face.

Gosh, this is a boring post. I apologize.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Something About Nothing

I finally got to see Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. I give it a solid B+.

It's difficult for me to not being hyper-critical when one of my favorite creators is tackling my favorite Shakespearean play. Especially when I've both read it and seen other versions so many times.

For one, it's just difficult to judge due to this version being about an hour shorter than the original is intended. The reason I adore the play so much is that it's so playful and witty with language. That is also one of the things that I love about Whedon. But so much gets cut to make it a reasonable length for a film, that it's a shame.

It has been pointed out that this version is one of the best film versions for being able to understand what the hell the characters are saying. And that is very true. But it still struggles at some points and some of the actors seem to still be unsure of what they're saying, but it's not nearly as bad as most Shakespeare adaptations.

It also deserves props for actually taking advantage of the film medium and showing some backstory about Benedick and Beatrice, rather than leaving it all to Beatrice's speech about their past. One of my favorite things about watching Much Ado adaptations is watching it and going, "Okay, what does this version think happened between Benedick and Beatrice in the past?"

Also, Whedon does his thing of giving familiar actors new role types that they don't usually end up in. Fran Kranz as Claudio? AMAZING! Reed Diamond as a nice person? Refreshing! Sean Maher as Don John? Fantastic! Not to mention the genius twist of having a woman, Rikki Lindehome of Garfunkel & Oates no less, as Conrade- adding a new dimension to Don John's scenes and making it impossible to confuse Conrade and Borachio.

And, finally, there's also the fact that this was all done in a matter of twelve days. Not a lot of pre-production could be put into things and it's impressively slick, considering.

However... Whedon still couldn't make Acts 4 and 5 of the play make sense in a modern context, as it ruins the character of Claudio and then pretends that he did nothing wrong. While this ending is fine in a pre-women's rights world where Hero really would have little choice other than the ridiculous solution her father cooks up. But, in a modern context? Why would anyone- especially Hero- be okay with that ending after what Claudio does? And Beatrice finds herself torn between sorrow for Hero and joy for proclaimed love from Benedick- which causes a mixture of drama and comedy back-to-back that is difficult to find balance between while keeping the characters grounded.  The resolution seems even weirder in the more understated and realistic version of the story being presented in this version. Whedon chose to leave it as basic and true to the original as possible with little-to-none subtext, which left it... bizarre and kind of flat.

I think it was a bold choice but ultimately fell short. That ending really has to play like a Blake Edwards scene or a sit-com final act to work usually.

It doesn't help that the most recent production that I saw a couple years before this film was the Catherine Tate and David Tennant stage production. In which so many gags and reactions were inserted between the text that you just end up believing that the characters are crazy, that Benedick and Beatrice are treating their relationship almost like a dare, and that it's all okay.
Tennant & Tate's versions are disgusted at each other's love letters.

Acker & Denisof's versions are besotted at each other's love letters.