The crying game

There are lots of things in life that can make you cry. Not getting any chocolates for Valentine’s Day, very sad animal stories, breaking your toe on one of your dog’s stupid bones that you have asked her quite nicely to put away a thousand times before and the simple fact that even though McDonald’s is now serving breakfast 24/7 you still can’t get any biscuit options past ten unless you live in one of a handful of states, none of which I would ever choose to live in, despite my love of all things biscuit-y.




Some people don’t cry very easily and others cry at the drop of a hat like America’s least favorite tan dad, former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Whether it was being crowned House of Representatives king-of-the-prom or getting backstage passes to see the coolest pope in the universe this guy can bring on the waterworks like nobody’s business and I sorta miss him for that, and for that reason only, because he was a terrible speaker. Personally I kinda fall somewhere in the middle between being all dead on the inside or cries like a weeping puddle of Boehner, depends on what I am watching, how crappy my day was, or you know, hormones. But if you feel like you need a good old cry these three movies bring on the waterworks for me each and every time and even if they don’t make you sniffle a whit they are still great movies.*

Dear Frankie: stars Emily Mortimer (woefully underrated as an actress in my book) as Lizzie, a single mother of a hearing-impaired mute boy named Frankie (Jack McElhone). Lizzie is on the run from Frankie’s abusive father and goes to great lengths to make sure Frankie never meets him by making up the name of a merchant ship and turning Frankie’s father into a crew member. Frankie regularly sends letters to his fake father on the fake ship and Lizzie responds with stamps from around the globe to make the story believable and everything is hunky dory until the fake ship turns out to be real and coming soon to the quaint coastal village they currently reside in. Lizzie needs a fake dad real fast and her friend and chip shop boss finds her one in the guise of an unamed visiting sailor played by Gerard Butler.

Fake daddy takes his job very seriously and his pay-to-play gig turns into something much more than anyone was bargaining for, least of all Lizzie. He buys Frankie a fancy book about the ocean and when he hugs his pretend father in genuine gratitude the feels begin in a big way and you can tell this movie is moving in a direction that will soon require some tissues. When one night Lizzie tells fake daddy that she only gets to hear Frankie’s voice in his letters we understand why she has been faking it so hard for so long. (Netflix, YouTube)

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About A Father: I saw this movie the very first time when I was sick in bed with a cold, the kind of sick where you can listen to the TV but not really watch it because your head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. Once the movie started though I had to get over it and watch because I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Dear Zachary started out as one kind of documentary by the filmmaker but due to horrific, unforeseen circumstances ended up a completely different one. If Making a Murderer made you angry about the sorry state of our criminal justice system then Dear Zachary will make the Canadian one look even worse, but for opposite reasons. Andrew Bagby was an only child, adored by his parents, a good guy with a solid group of friends, one of whom Kurt Kuenne, set out to make a film about Andrew initially for his parents to remember him by and then subsequently for Bagby’s son Zachary to get to know him by after Andrew was killed by Zachary’s mother before he was born. This is NOT A SPOILER since it was the original premise of the film.

Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, that is not the natural order of things. Watching what Andrew Bagby’s mother and father go through to have a relationship with Zachary, their only grandchild and last tangible piece of their son on Earth is punch-to-the-gut-wrenching. Only an android could watch this movie with its shocking turn of events and not ugly cry, a lot. Grab a full box of tissues for this one, you will need it. (Netflix, YouTube)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont: Recently widowed Mrs. Arthur Palfrey (Joan Plowright) decides to move to a residential hotel in London, to a room absolutely without a view and an assortment of other widows and widowers, (mostly widows). She and her fellow residents spend their evenings in front of the telly watching old Sex & The City reruns while they wait for members of their respective families to come visit. Mrs. Palfrey hopes to spend time with her grandson Desmond and calls him repeatedly but he never returns the call. One day while out on a walk she takes a tumble and is rescued by a young man around her grandson’s age named Ludavic Meyer (Rupert Friend in his pre-Homeland days). To thank him, Mrs. Palfrey invites Ludavic to dinner and all the single ladies assume he is the much talked about but never actually seen Desmond.

Mrs. Palfrey and her fake-but-so-much-better-than-the-real-thing grandson bond over their mutual love of Wordsworth and Blake and it’s all so sweet and cultured and cute that you just know something’s gonna make it all come crashing down to reality and it does when the real Desmond shows up unexpectedly one afternoon at the Claremont. This movie proves that sometimes fake or manufactured families can often times be more kind and loving to one another than the real blood ones and that old people deserve much more than just being put into cold storage somewhere until they die. (YouTube, Amazon Instant)

* seriously, if you don’t shed a tear or twenty watching one of these movies than we are going to have to assume you are a Cyberman or a Dalek or some other member of the undead.


I can’t live if living is without you*


As someone who has no problem spending $90 on a cotton tee-shirt or $60 on hair conditioner, it is really nice for my checking account when I find something that I really like that is also a bargain. Here are a few products that are not only excellent but cheap as all get out and one of them is even kind of free, as along as you have internet service or your neighbors do and don’t have their WI-FI locked or you know their password because it is something dumb, like password. Really people, you need to step up your personal security game.

Rosebud Lip Salve: a few winters ago I had such a bad bout of dry eyelids that not only did it hurt like hell but also made it damn near impossible for me to wear any eye make-up. First world problems I know, but I reside there and work there and wearing some eye make up is part of my reality. Living for four months of the year in the real world version of Game of Throne’s  The Wall otherwise known as Minnesota, lots of body parts dry out but nothing had ever been this bad before. In the past if something (usually the bottoms of my feet) got super dry I would just apply a bunch of vaseline and sleep in socks and that would take care of the problem. Not this time though. Just when I thought I was going to have to go to the dermatologist I decided to try some of my Rosebud Lip Salve on my eyelids even though it’s made up of 99% vaseline and that had already disappointed me greatly like the very idea of Morrissey ever actually completing another world tour in our lifetime. Here’s a hint people, he won’t.

Buy this because it's probably the closest you will come to ever seeing him for real

Buy this because it’s probably the closest you will come to ever actually seeing him for real

This charming hand-made man aside, whatever the other one percent is in Rosebud Salve it is the Anne Sullivan of balms because it is a miracle worker. I woke up the next morning and not only did my eyelids no longer hurt but they were also no longer dry and therefore amenable to a little Urban Decay eye shadow, life was so worth living again. Ever since then anytime I get even the slightest hint of a dry spot anywhere I grab that little blue tin, it works really well on cuticles too which can also be a problem in the winter for me. I use it every night on my lips and maybe buy it twice a year so a little dab will certainly do ya. The mint version is great too, just not so good if you think you ever might want to use it anywhere near your eyes. Trust me, don’t do it, I can tell you from personal experience it is not a wise move. I usually pick mine up at Sephora since I go there a lot (don’t judge, it is fun there and I need to keep my VIB status) but you can get it here too.

Buy this, your lips will thank you for it

Buy this and kiss life on the lips


3M Lint Roller: Do you have animals? Do those animals have fur? Does that fur sometimes come out like all over your furniture? Does the fur match all your clothes? If it does not and you answered yes to all but the last question then you know how very valuable a good lint roller is in your life. I have one upstairs, one downstairs, one at work and one in my car if the car wash people did not get rid of it like they did my re-usable water jugs which was totally uncool unless they recycled them since I was going to do that eventually anyway. At this point in my animal-loving life I could probably own part of 3M considering how many of these I have purchased over the years. Anyone with a pet needs a bunch of these, even this guy:


Huggable Hangers: Those of us who live in older homes know what it is like to be closet-challenged. While my house has lots of closets for its era, none of them are particularly huge and the one in my bedroom is exceptionally small, factor in my clothes addiction and Houston, we have a major storage problem. I used to always use padded hangers because I thought they were better for my clothes but they were definitely space hogs. I could never use wire hangers because I had seen Mommie Dearest in my formative years and Joan Crawford and her weirdness about them scarred me for life.

Then one day while channel surfing I happened across the Huggable Hanger lady (Joy Mangano) on one of those home shopping channels and was intrigued. Could it really be true that by switching to her skinny-minny hangers I could gain some valuable space in my tiny closet and possibly get even more clothes in there? The answer was a resounding yes to both. It took me awhile and many trips to Target but I eventually switched everything over and can’t recommend them highly enough. Check them out here.

Buy these, unless you have a fancy walk-in closet the size of an apartment

Buy these, unless you have a fancy walk-in closet the size of an apartment or something


Maxwell House International Cafe: as a non-coffee drinker I will admit that my standards are pretty low but I have loved this tinned powdered flavored coffee product since I was a teen and my mom used to put it in my Christmas stocking. When I was a kid it was called General Foods International Coffee but sadly General Foods went the way of the Sony Walkman and cassette tapes and no longer exists. Thankfully the folks at Maxwell House saw the huge growth potential in the tinned powdered flavored coffee market and decided it was a product well worth keeping. As a teen my favorite flavor was Suisse Mocha, which I thought at the time was the height of coffee sophistication and made me feel worldly even though I had only ever been to Canada at that point. Starbucks, Dunn Brother or Caribou weren’t on every corner or in the public library like they are now. Back then people had to make their own damn coffee and we liked it that way, even if it was fake.

Buy this and rebel against coffee snobbery

Buy this and reject coffee snobbery


Now that I am a grown up I will drink “real” coffee occasionally (lots of cream and sugar and pretty much anything taste good), but I still don’t really like it. I do however still like the fake stuff, although now I am pretty devoted to French Vanilla Cafe as it is delicious. So go ahead and celebrate the moments of your life, not with some Pike’s Place blend from Starbucks but with something a little more elegant because every time you drink a cup of tinned powdered flavored coffee product another pretentious hipster loses their sense of irony and that really is worth commemorating.


YouTube how-to-videos: If you thought YouTube videos were just for watching cats and dogs do amusing things than you are mostly right but there are other more educational options to check out as well. While I am sure you can learn how to do a lot of bad things on the internet (not that I would check, mind you) you also can learn how to do a lot of good things and maybe even save yourself some money in the process. For example, in the last couple of years I have learned how to replace a pull chain light fixture in my laundry room despite the fact that I am petrified of all things electrical and learned how to clean out my tub drain with the help of a Zip it which was beyond gross and disgusting. I am not going to lie, fixing both of those fairly simple things myself without paying someone else to do it or asking for help made me feel all sorts of sister’s-are-doing-it-for-themselves kind of superior and I liked it, a lot.

The how-to videos that I really love though are the hair and make-up ones. As previously discussed, I am terrible at hair styling but I still like to watch others who are good at it just in case something eventually rubs off (umm, so far no). But the videos that intrigue me the most are the make-up tutorials. Just like Lay’s Potato Chips you can’t eat or watch just one and the next thing you know it is lunchtime and you have not moved off the couch for three hours and did not even notice.


No matter which side of the make up equation you fall on personally, there is no denying that it is an art form and that there are many incredibly talented artists out there. The ability of these women to transform themselves in so many ways is both mind-blowing and inspiring and as long as they keep posting I will keep watching.

* of course I can live without all these things, but why would I want to?