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.