Month: November 2014

Don’t need nothing but a good time, how can I resist? Five movies that I can’t not watch, at least for a little while

There are a few movies that whenever I come across them whilst flipping channels I just can’t pass by. Once I catch the merest snippet of a scene from one of these films I am pretty much all in until the final credits roll. These movies are the equivalent of putting on a pair of your very favorite sweatpants or fuzzy slippers while drinking a nice warm cuppa something, they are the movie version of comfort food only without the calories. Now what constitutes as a comfort movie for me might not be the same for you, we are all our own unique rainbows and my personal pot of gold is solely comprised of comedies. Watching them immediately transports me to my happy place, and with this already cold and awful November weather and yet another winter on my doorstep I need all the help I can get. Recently two of my favoritedest comfort movies were on at the very same time and I found myself in quite the conundrum. Which one should I watch as my primary movie and which one should be the understudy, i.e., the movie I watch only during commercials? Ugh, it was just so very unfair especially when you consider most of the time when you want to sit down and watch something on cable there is absolutely NOTHING to choose from, despite having hundreds of channels (to be fair, many of them are the same ones, Comcast, go figure). And I would like to please ask BBC America to stop showing Top Gear for days at a time and that goes double for any and all James Bond movies and it goes triple for any episodes of Star Trek, whatever generationJust STOP!!!!!!!!!

Hot Tub Time Machine: I saw this movie the weekend it opened, because we all know how the supposedly funniest movies ever get less funny the longer they are out and the more we hear about how funny they are from others so if there is a comedy that I am at all interested in my rule of thumb is to see it the weekend it opens. If not I will end up feeling all disappointed and totally misled by the people who told me how hilarious it was* and how they laughed their asses off when I left the movie with my ass still firmly attached thank you very much.

Luckily HTTM did not let me down and it fast became one of those movies that no matter what I should be doing, I end up watching it until the bitter end. Those of us who were lucky enough to experience the 80’s know that it was a time of horrible hair, the bigger, the curlier and the crunchier, thanks to all the mousse, the better. And as bad as the hair was, the fashion was even worse. Acid wash jeans, lace all over the place (not comfortable), neon colored everything and the ubiquitous Frankie Says Relax or Choose Life in huge letters on white tee shirts ruled. Seriously, it had absolutely no redeeming fashion qualities except I did have an awesome pair of white-fringed Minnetonka moccasin boots that I wish I still had today. I remember wearing those at First Avenue and thinking they were the bomb, and really, they were.

 

One 80's fashion item I would like back please

One 80’s fashion item I would like back

 

Would you like a banana?

Does anyone want a banana?

John Cusack (Adam), Craig Robinson (Nick), and Rob Corddry (Lou) have all seen better days and are each going through their own version of a middle-age crisis with former party boy Lou suffering the worst. After Lou’s failed suicide attempt the three high school buddies along with Adam’s basement dwelling video gamer nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) hop in the car and head to the hills, the ski hills that is, to the old resort that was the scene of all their youthful good times. Of course the years have also been unkind to the Kodiak Ski Resort which is now a run down husk of its former self and when a can of Chernobly energy drink gets spilled into the control of the hot tub they all get back-to-the-futured to 1986, a winter weekend that was pivotal in all four of their lives.

Hideous fashion aside, the 80’s were a pretty fun, silly time and this movie brings it all back and then some. A mish-mash of Back to the Future and about a hundred other time traveling movies it’s not hugely original. It is however quite possibly the best movie John Cusack has been in since High Fidelity (check it out if you have not seen it or read the book). Frizzy hair, bad fashion, Chernobly, it’s all there and it is glorious. Plus any movie with Scritti Politti’s Perfect Way in the soundtrack is all right by me.

 

 

Devil Wears Prada: Remember back when the collective internets did not loathe Ann with an e Hathaway? Before she turned all Tracy Flick from Election on us in her ruthless quest to win a major award (Oscar) for Les Miz? Trust me, there was a moment when she wasn’t insufferable and this movie proves it. TDWP stops me in my tracks every time because: a) New York has never looked so good; b) Paris has never looked so good; c) the clothes are to die for: and d) Emily Blunt as her co-worker who is just one flu episode away from being the perfect size steals every scene she is in. In fact, I loved everything about Anne Hathaway as Andy Sachs in this movie, her hair, her clothes, her being the fat girl in the not-so-thinly veiled Vogue office.

Hilary Clinton could learn a thing or two from Ms. Flick

Hilary Clinton could learn a thing or two from Ms. Flick

I did not read the book as I was not that interested in the subject matter (hatchet job on Anna-everyone-knows-she-is-a-beyotch-Wintour**) yet the movie sucks me in each and every time and this movie is on A LOT, which is why when it was up against Hot Tub Time Machine I knew this would be my understudy movie. TDWP had a million dollar wardrobe budget and it shows. Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, you name it but the most envy inducing clothes as worn by Ann with an e Hathaway are Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld may be a bit of a see-you-next-Tuesday IRL but he sure makes some awfully pretty clothes.

I want them all, after I have the flu about three or four times

I want them all, after I have the flu about three or four times

 

 

Shaun of the Dead: Now normally I don’t like horror movies even when they are directed by someone I  knew for 48 hours (and had their digits) and I don’t care for gore yet somehow I adore this movie. Or maybe it’s just Simon Pegg that I adore? Anyhoodle, Shaun (Pegg) is a slacker with a crummy electronics sales job,  an unhappy soon to be ex-girlfriend (Kate Ashfield) and a loser best friend Ed (played by Nick Frost). When the zombie apocalypse happens slacker Shaun springs into action and leads his friends and family on a road trip to their local pub, thinking they will be all be safe there. Au contraire Shaun, au contraire.

I love this Shaun too

I adore this Shaun too

The cast also includes Bill Nighy (Shaun’s step-dad and the epitome of lanky elegance as always), Penelope Wilton (Shaun’s mom, aka Harriet Jones, Prime Minister from Doctor Who and poor dead cousin Matthew’s mum from Dowtown Abbey), Dylan Moran, (the crankiest bookstore owner ever from Black Books), Lucy Davis (the original Pam from the original Office) and a slew of others most notably Doctor Watson himself, Martin Freeman, or Bilbo Baggins if you’re into that Hobbit crap which I am not.

This one (like all the other comfort movies) can also be found on Amazon Instant but you really should see it on DVD with all the extras like a trashy Jerry Springer-type daytime talk show and a ZombAid concert. It is the first time I have ever even remotely liked Chris Martin, still not enough to ever listen to Cold Play, that could never happen willingly. Borrow it from one of your friends because surely at least one of them should own it. If not, you might want to expand your friend-zone a bit wider.

 

 

Blades of Glory: Ah yes, figure skating and I go way back, way back to the old Golden Valley Ice Arena that I think is a bank or a hotel or something else non-ice related now. I spent my Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) at that rink, perfecting my figure eights (that used to be important in the old days, before triple jumps of every persuasion took over). Oh how I loved putting on my skate guards after a nice lesson with my ex-Ice Capades coach Mr. Lee and drinking some of that boiling hot vending machine hot cocoa. Kids today with their Caribous and Starbucks on every corner have no idea how bad that stuff was, it was all watery and barely had any resemblance to anything even vaguely chocolate-y. I had to have it though, every time. Just like I have to watch this movie every time I come across it.

Cocoa so hot it makes McDonald's coffee seem cold

Cocoa so hot it makes McDonald’s coffee seem cold

Will Ferrell is the kind of guy people tend to either love or hate. I definitely am in the love camp and could have easily had three of these comfort movies star him, “Elf“, “Anchorman” and “Megamind” for example but that would be rather boring, wouldn’t it? Ferrell stars as Chazz Michael Michaels (a guy who can appreciate the importance of a good hairbrush) a former men’s champion skater who gets banned for life from singles competition along with his arch nemesis rich boy Jimmy MacElroy, played in all his blonde glory by Napoleon Dynamites Jon Heder. Thankfully, Jimmy’s stalker Hector (Nick Swardson) comes up with a way for them to get around this little set back by having them compete as the world’s first non-mixed pair. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler (now sadly D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D) are great as the ever-so-slightly incestuous (gross) Von Waldenburg siblings, add in a bunch of  real-life figuring skating champs like Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton and you have a great popcorn and Milk Dud movie to cuddle up with on a long winter’s night. The anthemic 80’s rock soundtrack doesn’t hurt either. I never got to skate to anything from the 20th century when I was in ice shows let alone something I knew the words to.

 

Desperately Seeking Susan: The first time I ever went to NYC just happened to be the year this movie came out. I am pretty sure I never saw it then because I was not a Madonna fan and this was her big push to be a film star and we all know how that all turned out for Madge, don’t we? It’s a good thing she has that singing thing going on because unlike Ann with an e Hathaway, she is never going to have to worry about where to put an Oscar in one of her many homes. However, this movie is her best acting work to date and while that isn’t saying a lot, it is saying something since DSS is enjoyable for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is it does showcase one of the few Madonna songs I ever liked  “Get into the Groove” and if that song does not have you singing and dancing along even a little bit then my friend there is no hope for you.

Rosanna Arquette (the one with the Toto song in her honor) plays a bored New Jersey housewife who obsessively reads the personals (remember those? I suppose if they re-did this it would be Craig’s List, which is so very not the same) and one day goes into the big bad city to spy on a planned rendezvous for Susan only she gets hit on the head, develops amnesia (like people do in all the movies) and then meets dreamy Aiden Quinn***. DSS also stars a pre-Roseanne Laurie Metcalf and a couple of other people who show up on network shows regularly.

From a church to a nightclub where a murder took place to a gym.

From a church to a nightclub where a murder took place to a gym. NYC gentrification at its finest

The best thing about this movie (besides the song) is how great a job it does showing just how very scary NYC used to be. I even forgot how bad it was and I have been going there forever. The lower east side, Times Square, they were not at all the trendy, safe places they are today. And while I really do not miss the squalor and the ick factor that was Times Square back then, I am not so sure I like the chain stores and restaurants a whole lot better. The gentrification and homogenization of NYC has been going on for so long now that each time I go back there is one more piece of the original puzzle missing. Music Institutions like CBGBs in the Bowery, Wetlands in TriBeCa and Love Saves the Day, the store that figured so prominently in this movie are long gone. Even the infamous Limelight nightclub where the club kid murder took place is now a fancy gym and that is just all sorts of wrong.

 

*See pretty much any Jim Carrey movie ever and There’s Something About Mary, sorry, not funny, not one bit.

** Every time I think of how uptight Anna Wintour supposedly is (her nickname is after all Nuclear Wintour) I remember the very interesting fact that she spent a week holed up in a hotel room with Bob Marley, and then I just laugh and think what a sly little pothead she was and for all we know still could be.

*** I am not sure what it was but for years every time I went to NYC I would see Aiden Quinn. Go to dinner in the meat-packing district, go to a bar in the east village, see a play, you name it, he was there. It was so WEIRD. But he was very cute back then so I didn’t mind.

 

 

November is the worst month ever

I started this blog in the loveliest month of the year, July, so I feel I must address what is without a doubt, the awfullest month of the year, November. Whoever said April is the cruelest month* has obviously never spent five minutes in Minnesota in November when you can go from sock-less to wearing a Marge Gunderson style hat in less than 24 hours. Seriously, last week I did not have to wear socks AT ALL and today I had to wear not only socks but boots, winter boots, not even fun fashion-y ones. There is no in between or transition time allowed, it just happens in a nanosecond so whoever is in charge of the weather (Mother Nature, God, Buddha) obviously does not like us much.

I could use that hat right about now, minus the badge

I could use that hat right about now Marge, minus the badge

What is so bad about November you ask? Well, for starters the clocks go back so the sun sets even earlier and the days are still getting shorter so that extra few moments of daylight you get in the morning are totally gone by the time turkey day rolls around. Oh yay, more darkness said no one ever in the history of the world. After the clocks go back they come for the port-a-potties at the park, not that I would ever use them mind you (ew, and double ew), it is just the very idea of them being gone that is upsetting. And as of this past weekend, the sign went dark at the Dairy Queen so no more blizzards or crunch cones or anything of the like in the neighborhood. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t really like ice cream, but I do like DQ occasionally and I particularly like a crunch cone every once in a while and now that is yet another thing totally off the table for months, like short sleeves or sandals or humidity. I like a little humidity, it is good for the skin and gives me big hair. Yes I know there are indoor Dairy Queens but we all know that the outdoor stands are a superior ice cream eating experience even if you are shivering and wearing mittens at the time which is precisely what I will be doing come March when it reopens.

See you in March my old friend

See you in March my old friend

Unlike July, I would do just about anything to get out of proverbial frozen Dodge right about now. What have we got to look forward to now, Black Friday? Why even the sales in November sound like they were made up by one of the Bronte sisters. When I was a kid the store formerly known as Dayton’s (RIP, I still grieve for you, especially every time I walk through your replacement) best sale was the Daisy Sale, now isn’t that an inspiring non-bleak name for a sale? Fresh and flowery, the Daisy Sale was in June and it was always sunny and never ever rained or was cold. Okay I am totally making that last bit up but it was a superior store and so were their sales, and they were on the good stuff too, not just the crap store brands like the chain whose name rhymes with Lacey’s. Dayton’s print ads and Sunday newspaper inserts were a thing of beauty and something to look forward to, they made you want to shop there, especially the Oval Room, which was where all the fancy ladies who lunch went to buy their Chanel.

As repugnant as NOvember (typo, but it is how I feel about it) is, once it has passed, December and January don’t seem so bad. December is all Christmas-y and Elf  (I love that movie) is on like every other day and January is bright  and the days are getting longer again and the I-don’t-ever-want-to-leave-my-house-ever of November (except to go to a beach–which I will be doing in precisely fifteen days) has been replaced by the get-me-the-hell-out-of-the-house-itis of January. Really, I’ll do just about anything, things I normally would not be caught dead doing any other month of the year. Hollywood blockbuster, arcade, roller skating, heck, I’d even go to the Mall of America, willingly, and that is generally my idea of the seventh circle of hell and I don’t ever want to go there, although it would be warm.

Take your least favorite thing to do times 100 and that is how I feel about going to this place

Take your least favorite thing to do and multiply it times 100 and that is how I feel about going to this place, usually

February has no redeeming qualities that I can think of, other than it is short even during leap years. Now March can be super snowy but the clocks go ahead and it kinda sorta smells like spring so who cares? Also the Dairy Queen opens back up and the port-a-potties return (still not using them) and then next thing you know we have a 40 degree day or two and people are wearing shorts and driving convertibles with their tops down. Minnesota, you gotta love it. Just not in November.

I adore this song, I play it in my car real loud and I don’t care if the other drivers give me funny looks because it is awesome and they are awesome and you should check out their website and download this song because all the proceeds benefit the MN Women’s Foundation and that is a Martha Stewart-style good thing.

* of course I know it was TS Eliot who said that, I was originally an English major in college but he was never one of my faves, not even close.

More questions I want the answers to

Where did Rene Zellweger’s old face go? Because apparently she lost it. Yes there is a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, Ebola, Isis (the terrorist group, not the cute lab from Downton Abbey), the mid-term elections and the unfathomable fact that Paul Rudd is still not my husband, yet the biggest media story a couple of weeks ago was the appearance of Renee Zellweger at a Hollywood event that put the media’s knickers in a twist. Honestly the more surprising story would have been about someone in Hollywood around her age NOT messing with their face because if you are a woman over thirty, let alone forty, you have pretty much entered the Mrs. Roper/Valerie Cherish* zone of only being cast as someone’s mother or a mentally challenged landlady with a stock phrase and a track suit.

Is this the new female Doctor?

Is this the new female Doctor?

There are lots of Hollywood stars who now look more like they could be related to someone famous rather than actually being that person. Getting older is hard enough for us plebes let alone famous people who are being scrutinized like never before thanks to the internet where everyone is a critic from the safety of their own couch, most likely located in their parent’s basement. Renee Zellweger, like Meg Ryan before her, has every right to do whatever she wants to do to her appearance, no matter what the consequences. What I do have a problem with however, was her response to the all the hullabaloo in which she credits her Doctor Who-like regeneration into practically another person down to being happier and healthier.

Umm, liar, liar pants on fire. Anyone equipped with two eyes and at least one of them working knows that something other than eating a bunch of kale and thinking happy thoughts was involved in her transformation. I have to admit I have a bit of a dog in this fight as Ms. Happy Healthy Face is one of the celebs random strangers in elevators or in airports seem to think I look like (the other being Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy but we are not talking about her today). Whether or not looking like the actress formerly known as Squinty Zellweger can be taken as a compliment depends entirely upon if that person thinks she is cute so I am going to say yes, it WAS a compliment. One I probably won’t have to worry about anymore since I am apparently not that happy or healthy and still have her old face.

 

What is the name of the cat in Gone Girl? Obviously I did not read the book or I would know the answer to this very simple question. And I could probably Google it but where is the fun in that? So I am just going to assume it was a boy kitty, and it was a ginger so I am going to call him Little Ed Sheeran in honor of Taylor Swifty’s best friend. I mean come on, have you seen what Ed Sheeran looked like as a child? He was totally adorable.

So much ginger cuteness!

So much ginger cuteness!

Anyway, whatever that cat is called in real life he is a major star in the making. Every scene Little Ed was in he stole. Forget about the missing (spoilers!) Amazing Amy, or her lousy husband Nick Dunne, or Ben Affleck showing the world his baby maker (I missed it, not a good sign Ben) and Rosamund Pike’s precise bob she supposedly cut HERSELF while hiding out at Doogie Howser’s lake house. No, what kept me on the edge of my seat nervously eating my popcorn was worrying about the safety of that poor ginger kitty who had to live with those two psychos.

Put that adorable ginger man down right now!

Run away Little Ed, run!!!

 

Why is Target always out of half the crap I need? I grew up on Target, it’s practically in my DNA to shop there. As a kid my mom went every Saturday, it’s how my Barbie got to be so very well dressed and where I blew my weekly allowance. Target is also responsible for how I found out Santa (spoilers!) was not real. We had a cedar closet in the house I grew up in and one day I went there to look for something and found a Thingmaker**. Obviously I was not supposed to find it so I did my best to forget about it until Christmas when it was one of my presents allegedly from Santa yet it still had the Target price tag on it. Hmm, I was like, what the hell? My mom saw what a BIG mistake she had made and started backtracking and telling me some lame-ass story about how the elves sometimes got really busy so Santa had to get toys from Target to make up the difference. She was essentially telling me that Santa was outsourcing way before it became fashionable for car makers and every other manufacturer in the US to do so but I wasn’t buying it. If Santa was a lie, what else were they not telling me the truth about? I had seen my birth certificate so I knew I wasn’t adopted but what about the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, were none of them real?

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As an adult this tradition of going to Target weekly (at a minimum) has continued only now I spend all my allowance on paper goods (you can never have too much IMO), pet supplies (some dogs expect Pupperoni every time they go outside to pee), and cleaning supplies (some cats are furry bulimics that don’t even try to hide their disorder). So it is really galling to me that they seem to be out of basic items on a regular basis and the problem only seems to be getting worse. I don’t know if it is a secret plot to get us all to buy their brand of products but there are somethings you can’t swap Up & Up out for. 2014 was not a particularly good year for Target, so I will cut them a little slack, but they better step up their game for 2015 or our long-term relationship may be in big trouble.

-1

Why can’t you buy an actual book in a book store? Believe me, I have tried. I admit I was not looking for Gone Girl, or anything by Dan Brown (nope, not ever) but the last three books I have wanted to read were nowhere to be found at a brick and mortar store. The last one I tried to find was a recent release, it had been reviewed in all the usual places and yet it was as elusive finding shorts in Minnesota in July, which is impossible because of all the coats and sweaters everywhere. I tried again yesterday to find a YA novel for a teen in my family thinking she would like it and despite its high praise from the New York Times and being turned into a movie by Dreamworks next year, nada. And telling me you can order it for me is not helpful since I can do that all by myself thank you very much. It is almost like Bernard Black owns all the bookstores in town and we all know Bernard does not really want to sell anyone a book, ever.

 

How can anyone not vote?: As someone who has been politically active since age eight, I can’t quite understand the apathy people have towards voting. Every vote does count, and every election does matter no matter how many times the man (aka the 1%) try to tell you otherwise. Whether it is your local school board election or the next president, they all matter, as the recent situation in Jefferson County Colorado proves all too well. Leave it to one looney tunes character on the school board to pass a resolution that only history based on patriotism and the benefits of free-enterprise could be taught in an AP class and all hell breaks loose. Nothing like taking a college level class and skipping over all the messy-but-true bits in order to spend more time learning how great Walmart is.

Mid-term elections have notoriously low turn-out, and it is very easy for just about anyone to be turned off because of the barrage of negative ads we are subjected to for what seems like a year in advance. I can’t even watch my local news to find out the weather or if anyone has been murdered or sexually assaulted in my work neighborhood again without keeping the mute button on for half of it and I kind of need to know these things.

In college I was an exit poller for NBC News and I was an election judge until my early retirement a couple of years back. It actually hurts both my head and my heart to tell you how ill-informed the average Joe and Jane Q Public are about government and voting and how the whole process works. It’s like nobody paid attention in school and slept in late on Saturdays so they missed every episode of Schoolhouse Rock which explained it all to you in three minutes with a catchy tune to boot.

 

 

 * You have seen The Comeback right? the first season is available on Amazon Prime for no extra monies and the second season will air soon on HBO. Check it out, you won’t regret it

** Back in the 70s dangerous toys were all the rage. Thingmakers had metal plates that heated up to like a billion degrees; Clackers were two glass balls on a string that sometimes chipped shards of glass into people’s faces or eyes; Jarts, sharp metal lawn darts that were not only dangerous but lethal as well. Why even something as simple as a kid’s chemistry set back then could blow someone’s hand off and no I am not exaggerating as it happened to a kid in my neighborhood when I was ten. Of course I was at summer camp when it occurred but believe me I heard all the gory details when I came home and there were loads of them.

If you have fond memories of glass shards in your face or being impaled by a Jart, or perhaps even losing a limb to a child’s chemistry set, then you would probably enjoy this toy exhibit at the Minnesota History Center where you could relive all the pain and the glory as well as see some of the non-lethal but more boring toys like Pokey & Gumby and Cootie.