Sunday, December 30, 2012


Despite my holiday-themed posts, I was not feeling very merry and cheerful about the Christmas season this year. You see, my grandfather passed away on Christmas Eve, which, of course, would explain that. It wasn't sudden, he was 90, and he lived a great life..but still. He was an incredible, sweet man who loved his wife and family, his country, his job, and a nice game of dominoes. I'll miss him, but I know he's in heaven talking and chuckling with old friends.

Here are a few things I've learned in the past few weeks: 

1. Buying Christmas presents for your parents is really difficult.

2. At a funeral, you find out how many true friends your family has. You also learn about 45,928,374 ways to respond to "I'm sorry for your loss."

4. Mayans cannot be trusted.

3. My faith in humankind diminished after 20 children were killed by the hand of a crazy person. So much life not yet lived, but God had other plans for them. Also, the beginning of The Voice a few weeks ago was a beautiful tribute to the victims:

Watch it here.

This will be my final post for the year, so I hope you have a wonderful New Years'! (My next post will be less depressing..I promise.)

See you in 2013!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Every time a bell rings...

As previously stated, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. Partly because there are so many wonderful movies about the magic of Christmas. It seems that the most exciting things in movies always happen right at Christmas. Even though I've never experienced actual magic during the holidays, I believe in it and like to watch it happen to other, fictional people.

For instance, there's "It's A Wonderful Life," where George Bailey, beaten down by years of responsibility and what he thinks of as mediocrity, realizes on Christmas Eve how special his life is, and the impact he's had on his family, friends and everyone in his town.

Then there's "White Christmas," one of my favorites because of all the singing and dancing. I love the relationship between Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Their pairing is brilliant and hilarious. Yet again, some of that Christmas magic happens between Bing and Rosemary Clooney (hello, George's aunt). Add in Vera-Ellen's incredible dancing, who could help but love this movie?? (I'm looking at you, Mother.)

Let's take a sharp left turn and talk about "Christmas Vacation," shall we? We all know these National Lampoon films are fantastic, but "Christmas Vacation" is perhaps more illustrative of most of our Christmases with family. The in-fighting, the crazy relatives, crowded homes with not nearly enough places to sleep, putting up the lights and the tree, and finding activities to do (ie sledding). I doubt anyone has ever had a Christmas quite as bad as the Griswold's, but a culmination of every bad family Christmas would probably look something like this film. The laughs it provides are nearly as great as its cringe-worthy moments. If you haven't seen this you live under a rock or something?!

Going back to another classic, I love A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. So of course, I love the film too. I'm talking about the 1984 TV version of the film, which seemed to me to be the best one. The modern versions (like with Bill Murray and especially that animated one with Jim Carrey where Scrooge flies, I mean, really?) don't really do it for me. Another wonderful story about the true meaning of Christmas, and the importance of being joyful and helping others.

Now on to perhaps my favorite Christmas movie: "Love Actually." It's not only because it is set in London, for which we all know I have a soft spot, but also because it is so beautifully written. The plots intertwine, the relationships are complicated, hearts are worn on sleeves ("just because it's Christmas"), and it works out wonderfully for those whom we want it to work out. As I said before, the Christmas magic in this film is simply too good to be true, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. (Side note: London really is that enchanting at Christmas time.)

I'll round out this oh-so-merry list with a recent film that everyone can agree on: "Elf". Okay, we all love Will Ferrell. But he takes it to a whole new level with Buddy, the naive but charming elf from the North Pole. I'm sure I don't have to explain this movie to you because you've no doubt seen it about 17 times already, but I will say that I'm not opposed to watching it every night from now until Christmas. Plus, it gives us some fantastic lines that are applicable all year round:
"I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite."
"You sit on a throne of lies!"
"First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."

Oh, did I mention I love Will Ferrell?

What are some of your favorite holiday movies??

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bookworm Problems

The Bookworm by Carl Spitzweg (aka Mr. Penrose to some) 
I'm getting way ahead of myself in the book department. Here's what's going on: I finished a Phillipa Gregory book right before Thanksgiving called The Queen's Fool, which was very good if you are into the whole historical fiction/Henry VIII/Elizabeth I thing, which I totally am. To find another book I raided my brother's bookcase, natch, to find All the Pretty Horses, which he said was really good and that he left it at home. But he lied, because it wasn't there. So instead I took Great Expectations, which has been sitting on my bedside table for 2 weeks. I then bought a book called Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, the same guy that wrote Atonement, and it is so amazing. It's about a woman who is recruited by MI5 during the Cold War. I'm only about 150 pages in, but I would already recommend it to anyone.

Then I was browsing Amazon on Cyber Monday and decided to buy Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, which was delivered this weekend. They talk about this book on Parks and Rec, which is reason enough right there to buy it (previously used with free shipping. Awesome.)

The point of all that is, I think the bibliophile in me is craving really great fiction because my life is not quite as riveting at present. I am not complaining because it's kind of nice. I also think I miss being in a book club that centers around great (and maybe not so great) novels, great friends and lots of red wine.

Good thing the holidays are here so I'll have time to finish all these books...if I don't get distracted by other things. Namely: friends in town, weddings, creating a Christmas list for "Santa," stuffing myself with Christmas-related food, etc. You know the drill.

Since I'm already jumping ahead, anyone have any book recommendations for 2013? (I've clearly learned nothing from this post.)