Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Friggin Christmas

This movie concerns a man who gets tricked into visiting his parents for Christmas. Joel McHale plays Boyd, a man obsessed with giving his children the perfect holiday season year after year to make up for the horrible ones he experienced with his abrasive father (Robin Williams). Now he hopes to shield his son from the truth about Santa, but hours after arriving at his parents', he realizes that he and his wife have forgotten his son's gifts at home in Chicago. He embarks on an all-nighter to get them to his son in time for Christmas morning.

This family is slightly more bizarre than the average, although they are charicatures of people we all know and begrudgingly love. There is the excessively macho father who tries to toughen his loved-ones up at every turn (Williams), the sweetly suffering wife (Candice Bergen), the PTSD soldier who came home to find his wife has left him with her love child (Clark Duke), the trashy sister and her red-neck husband (Wendi McLendon-Covey & Tim Heidecker); these characters add humor to the already zany journey-story. Of course there is pathos, emphasized by the death of Williams this year. Part Bad Santa and part The Family Stone, this film has something for everyone.

I am not sure why this movie gets such bad reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh and something new to watch this Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Relationships, Time Travel, and Christmas

I read a book which was published this year and named best fiction book by Goodreads readers that I would recommend for reading this Christmas. It is called Landline and author Rainbow Rowell does an excellent job of dissecting a crumbling marriage. The protagonist is Georgie McCool and she writers for a television program with her partner Seth. The two get an amazing opportunity to pitch their dream show to network executives, but in order to be prepared for the meeting, Georgie must work though Christmas which causes an eruption from her husband Neal who takes the kids to see his family without her. Georgie then spends the week wallowing in misery, terrified that her marriage is over and grasping at any possible solutions. When she spends some time at her mother's house and stumbles upon the fact that she can talk to Neal in the past through the landline phone in her room, she reflects on their past in order to solve their problems in the present.
This unique book is powerful because of the way it realistically portrays the relationships between the characters, but I especially loved it because it combined several elements I love including time travel and Christmas. Anyone with an interest in these things should love it too. Happy reading!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Winner! And Radio Show

Friday was the second annual scavenger hunt for the Courtroom Service Group, and for the second year in a row, my team won! We scrambled around a few places downtown (The Ohio Theatre and the State Auto Nativity Scene) before heading to Lennox to stalk Christmas items at Target and Bath and Body Works. Lori saw a car dressed as Rudolph but didn't have the camera so we grabbed our own kit at Dollar General and dressed up her van. Then we took the antlers off so no one else could spot her car and get the points for themselves. We weren't able to find an inflatable snow globe but we got all of the other items on the list and won a candle for our efforts. 
Tonight I will be a guest on Radio Once More to talk about Christmas. Be sure to tune in!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Shows

I spent this weekend watching various local Christmas performances, which is a great way to support your community and get into the spirit of Christmas.

The first was the Worthington Chorus' Christmas production. The auditorium was packed with people, probably because there were several children involved and all of their family members turned out to hear them sing. One little girl was particularly enthusiastic and went through every cute kid pose she could think of during the applause. This choir is overall pretty good, and there are a few singers who are particularly talented. My favorite is Ashleigh Brown who usually has an impressive solo and always appears to be having a great time on stage.

I first began going to their shows because my friend and co-worker Tim Brewer is in the chorus. It is because of him that I took my mom to Whetstone High School on Sunday to see the Clintonville band and choir perform. The band was impressive, although I felt the introductions before each song were unnecessary and that they delayed the show.

When I was in high school I was in choir and we did an annual Christmas concert. I looked forward to these shows because they were an excellent way to get into the spirit of Christmas. I recommend you seek out one or more of them in your town to round out the holiday season.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Yesterday was an amazing day. It started with a cookie party at my friend's house. We brought our dough and cooked and decorated our cookies there, sampled each others' treats, and ordered pizza. We watched I'll Be Home For Christmas, which was a great walk down memory lane and a preview of what was to come. In it, arrogant Jonathan Taylor Thomas (a teenage heart-throb I never really got interested in, but in hindsight he wasn't a bad actor and it'd be nice to see him on the screen again) screws over the wrong people and
they glue a Santa suit on him and leave him in the desert on the day he's supposed to take his girlfriend (Jessica Biel) home for Christmas. This movie was made in 1998 and it screams the late-90s; it is because of this that I enjoyed it so much. I or someone in my family wore every piece of clothing Jessica Biel wears in that movie, and although I maybe should have cringed at the styles I sort of missed them.

In the evening, I had plans with my sister. As part of her Christmas gift, I bought tickets for us to see O-Town at Skully's. When we were younger, we were O-town enthusiasts due to seeing them form on Making the Band. I thought Jacob Underwood was one of the cutest guys alive, and Sabrina had a thing for Dan Miller. When their CD was released, we pre-ordered it, and on its release date my mom punished me for having an attitude by taking away my privilege to listen to the new album. I was incredibly pissed until I realized she couldn't prevent me from hearing Sabrina listen to it. At a school dance when I was in 8th grade, Sabrina and I requested the DJ play Liquid Dreams, and when he actually played it was screamed at the top of our lungs and rushed out to the dance floor to dance, even though we typically didn't dance at the dances.

The concert was definitely a trip down memory lane for us, and I figured if that was all it was, it was worth going to. I didn't expect to be so impressed with them. The band reunited by choice, and they aren't under management the way they were before, so they're much happier about their circumstances, and it shows in their performance. They were having a great time on stage, and it made watching them a lot of fun. In addition, they're all extremely talented vocalists. They used tracks for their music and had a few choreographed routines, but it wasn't a boy band performance the way I imagined it might be. There was much more singing than dancing, and they weren't just singing along to their own vocals. They were truly singing every line (with the help with the very enthusiastic
female crowd). Each member got a chance in the spotlight, which was nice because it seemed like before Trevor and Erik sort of got pushed into the background.

We both had the expectation of just laughing a bit to ourselves at how silly we were for loving this band so much, but instead it rekindled our appreciation and made us want to seek out more from them. The band entered and exited directly behind us through the balcony to the stage, and Sabrina said after she brushed Jacob, "My ten-year-old self would be so jealous right not." I think her 25-year-old self is secretly pretty impressed too.

Here is O-Town singing Silent Night before their breakup in 2001.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

St. Vincent's

Today was the annual St. Vincent's trip with the clerk's office where we bring toys to children in a special school for children of abuse with behavioral problems. I always volunteer to go (and bake cookies since I love to bake) because the kids are so grateful and incredibly cute. The star of the show today was a little boy who bounced around the room shouting his excitement at Santa and then who shrieked happily over receiving batteries (for the remote control car he hadn't yet opened). Giving is an important part of Christmastime, and giving to those who can't give back is sometimes the most rewarding way to celebrate the holidays.

Unfortunately, not everyone who signed up to go to this trip was able to due to three people calling off, but another of our co-workers stepped up and offered to cover multiple courtrooms to ensure that three of us got to attend. Thanks Jessica! At least some people are in the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fathom Events

If you're interested in going to a movie theater to see a few Christmas classics, look no further than Fathom Event's presentation of A Christmas Carol from 1938 and Christmas in Connecticut from 1945. This is a special screening on December 7th at various theaters across the country.

This isn't my favorite version of A Christmas Carol, but it is pleasant enough. Christmas in Connecticut is a real charmer though and says a lot about the expectations of women at this time in history. Barbara Stanwyck tries to trick people into believing she's the perfect housewife she portrays herself to be in her column, but she doesn't even know how to cook.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever

When I found out there was going to be a Grumpy Cat Christmas Special this year, I was super excited. How could you not like Grumpy Cat? She's beautiful with a perpetually grumpy face used to illustrate funny memes with curmudgeonly phrases. Some of the Christmas ones make me laugh the most. And Aubrey Plaza, who plays an excessively sarcastic character in Parks and Recreation, was chosen to voice Grumpy Cat. It seemed like a formula for success.

The special aired on Lifetime on the 29th and I watched it. I wasn't overly impressed, but it was worth watching once. The story concerns a cat who lives in a pet store after having been returned twice for her disposition. A little girl makes a wish and suddenly can hear the cat's thoughts. She can the cat team up to take down a doofus team of criminals plotting to steal the expensive Leonberger from the pet store. The characters are juvenile, especially the rock band guitarist criminals who are basically stock characters lifted straight from other kid-oriented movies like The Three Ninjas or Hocus Pocus. There are a few amusing jokes at the expense of conventional Lifetime movies, but this is pretty standard stuff.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmastime Is Here!

I'm back! I am a bit delayed at beginning this blog for Christmas, but I have begun celebrating already. I spent 13 hours shopping on Black Friday and spent yesterday with my family at the Ohio Theatre watching A Christmas Carol.

I read the book this year. Of course I've seen countless movie versions (1938, 1951, 1992, 2009) so I knew the story well, but it was a great delight to read, and it is very short so I could easily be read during the busy holiday season. I recommend everyone do so at least once; after all, it is a classic.

The stage version we saw yesterday was amusing. The most impressive effect they utilized was with Jacob Marley. He was shaded with a green gel spotlight and introduced through the fireplace which was engulfed in smoke. His dusty-looking costume made his ghost eerie and otherworldly, whereas the other spirits were more lifelike and traditional in red and green velvet. Seeing it was a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Be sure to revisit the great old time radio programs which coincide with the holiday season. My favorite is the charming Cinnamon Bear which takes two children on a journey to find the silver star for the top of their tree just in time for Christmas.

Jump Jump and the Ice Queen can be streamed here: https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Jump_Jump_Ice_Queen_Singles
Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon can be streamed here: https://archive.org/details/ChristmasontheMoon  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Irving Berlin sang his own song, "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning" in This Is the Army. This is one of my favorite songs from the war. It gets stuck in my head most mornings during the week, and it provided a lightheartedness to the war that helped soldiers to escape their troubles by complaining about the minor discomforts of being in the military.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WWI really changed the way youth saw the world and themselves. While their parents may have lived in the same house their whole lives and never left their home states, these men and women saw foreign countries, met people from different backgrounds, and became jaded by the horrors of war. Subsequently, returning soldiers and nurses were too restless to stay and fulfill the life that had previously been destined for them. Many flocked to big cities or tried their hand at new careers.

How Ya Gonna Keep Em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)? perfectly illustrates this phenomenon.

Monday, November 3, 2014

It was common for the soldiers of WWI to take up with the local women in the towns where they were stationed. As a result, there are a variety of songs about French women written during the war. Here is one called "Oh Frenchy" which I own the sheet music to.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Billy Murray's humorous I'd Feel at Home if They Let Me Join the Army

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tribute to WWI

It has been 100 years since WWI started and kicked off the transformation of the United States into the nation it is today. In spite of this, it is severely neglected in public education and few people know much more about it other than the fact that it was begun by the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists.

I must admit that my knowledge is also limited, but my love for the time period, especially the culture, has given me a deep appreciation for the war which was supposed to end all wars.

I intend to spotlight WWI through the music of the period and miscellaneous entries about a variety of aspects of the war.

Let us begin with Over There, sung by Enrico Caruso, a popular singer at that time.