Orange Is the New Black: Discovering the Joys of Women’s Prison

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I resisted the allure of Orange Is the New Black for quite some time. Despite catching a fair amount of the buzz surrounding the hit Netflix series, and receiving glowing recommendations from some of my most trustworthy TV-loving pals, I made a firm decision to avoid the show.

After all, I watch too many shows as it is. I can barely keep up with the series I already watch, so how could I add yet another hour-long dramedy to the mix? Besides — it looked dreary. Graphic. Depressing. Grimy. I generally opt for the lighter side of comedy, and not the type that involves watching women urinate on the floor of a prison cell.

But as is true for most things I actively try to avoid, I gave in to the publicity and praise and settled in to start the series — and my viewing habits quickly turned to binge-watching both seasons in the span of a week. The stories consumed my thoughts before I fell asleep at night. Would Piper and Alex hook up in prison? Would Larry ever stop being such a selfish jerk? What will Crazy Eyes do next? Can Vee just die already, please?

As I finished the second season finale, left with the bittersweet experience of a satisfying wrap-up paired with the devastation of no more new episodes to consume, I came to the conclusion that OITNB totally lives up to the hype.

5 Reasons You Should Follow in My Footsteps and Binge-Watch Orange Is the New Black

1. A Show Like This Has Never Been Done Before

As much as I cherish my beloved television, even the best shows tend to fall into familiar ruts over time. We see the same love triangles play out on various shows, the same types of people getting into the same types of dramatic situations, and the tried and true tropes that have plagued the TV scene for decades.

But Orange Is the New Black blatantly disregards all beaten paths.

How often do you see a TV show that almost completely revolves around women? How often do those women come from legitimately diverse backgrounds? Even in today’s slightly more female and diversity-friendly society, shows like that are hard to come by. It’s refreshing, to say the least.

2. It’s Addictive

Have you ever started in on a new TV show that you’ve been dying to watch for months, only to abandon the whole thing after a few episodes out of boredom? That happens to me regularly (and no, I won’t tell you which series affected me in this way — but they may or may not rhyme with Sad Ben and Doctor Shoe). For whatever reason, I find myself disinterested and can’t stick with it long enough to get hooked.

That was not the case for OITNB. I was hooked by the second episode, and as soon as an episode was finished, I immediately had to see what happened in the next. I rarely feel this way about hour-long shows, so that’s definitely indicative of the series’ addictive qualities!

3. It’s Based on a True Story

When I first settled in to watch the much talked-about show, I had no idea that it was actually based on the memoir of a very real woman named Piper and her experiences in a women’s prison. Upon learning this fact, I couldn’t help but delve into any online information I could find about her real story and find out just how much was accurate to her story.

As it turns out, quite a bit is fabricated for the small screen drama. But enough is based on real life events that the show takes on a whole new meaning.

4. The Cast

While you may recognize a face or two among the cast (such as Jason Biggs, Laura Prepon, and that guy from NYPD Blue), overall it is a cast of relative unknowns — but based on their impeccable acting and comedy chops, it doesn’t take long to feel like you’ve known the characters for years.

If none of these actresses win Emmys for their performances, I think it’s time we just call it a day on the whole Awards Show idea. It must be a sham!

5. Because You Just Should, That’s Why

It’s the middle of summer, for crying out loud. What else do you have going on? Just purchase a Netflix subscription and watch it! Do you want to wait until you’re the last person to understand all of the chicken and “Dandylion” references? I think not. It’s time to stop procrastinating, get caught up, and join the discussion.

Unless you absolutely hate realistic depictions of prison life that include violence, sex, and other bodily functions/fluids taking center stage, you won’t regret it.

Yes, Women Are Funny – But Now What?

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It has been said by many-a man (and some women, too) that women are simply not as funny as men. Female comics are not as humorous as male comics, they might declare. Comedy films are best when cast with a bunch of dudes, not a bunch of dudettes.

Thankfully, this myth has been debunked time and time again, so I don’t feel the need to bust out my best persuasive argument. Many women are funny. That’s a fact.

But simply acknowledging that women can be — and often are — funny is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you still struggle to name female comedians or comic actresses that have tickled your funny bone? If you try to think of a female-centric comedy film, is Bridesmaids the only movie you can remember?

If so, get excited! I’m here to open your eyes a bit wider to the world of female comedy (and it is a glorious world, indeed):

Funny Females – my IMDb list of the 149 (and counting!) most hilarious women in entertainment
Feminine Funnies – my IMDb list of the best female-fronted comedy films ever made
Female Friendly Comedy Shows – my IMDb list of the funniest shows that prominently feature women

There you have it! Funny women do exist, and they’ve actually existed all along.

Who are your favorite funny ladies? Share yours in the comments section below!

Song of the Summer: A Musical History

In the past few days, I have come across countless online articles debating the idea of “songs of the summer,” aka tracks that exploded in popularity during the summer months which are so commonplace that even the most pop culture-averse human being has heard them — and probably had them stuck in his or her head at some point or another.

The debate involves questions and commentary like:

  • Do “summer songs” actually exist?
  • When did this phenomenon first begin? 2010? It’s 2010, right? Darn you, Katy Perry!
  • I’m over 30 and I can guarantee you that we didn’t have anything like this in MY day! You know, back when we walked uphill in five feet of snow in the middle of July. We didn’t even have music back then! We just listened to the wind in the trees. Kids these days are so spoiled.
  • Stop trying to make “summer songs” happen. They’re not going to happen!
  • Is this even a thing, or is it just an idea created by a blogger with too much time on his or her hands?

It’s most likely the latter (as is most of what the internet discusses at length these days), but since everyone’s talking about it (and I’m just such a blogger with too much time on my hands), I’d be silly to not throw in my two cents!

Do I think “summer songs” exist? Of course they do. Is this anything new? Absolutely not. Can an entire summer-long musical landscape be whittled down to a single song that is agreed-upon by everyone around the world — or even a small group of well-intentioned adults in the United States? No.

But I’ll bite.

I put together a playlist of every major “summer song” from 1960-today, one tune per year, as chosen by yours truly. Give it a listen:

 

Do you agree with my picks? Which hot summer ditties do you think I omitted? Do you think the “song of the summer” is something that actually exists, or do you wish bloggers would just shut up about it already? Leave a comment and let me know!

Me and Cat, a Couple of No-Name Slobs

Okay, fine. We both actually have names. But it’s the principle of the thing, okay? I wanted to quote Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the title. I wanted to compare myself to Audrey Hepburn. Is that a crime? Let me have this one thing, you guys!

Ever since I was a wee, wee lass, I’ve wanted to have an indoor kitten. Unfortunately, though, throughout my childhood, my older brother was allergic to animals and we couldn’t keep any inside the house. We had a few outdoor cats, but because they were outside and I was (and still am) “kind of an indoor girl,” I didn’t really get to hang out with the kitties as much as someone with indoor cats could have. So now that I’ve struck out on my own and no longer live under the watch of a tyrannical animal-hating apartment complex, I decided to finally take the plunge and get a cat.

And it finally happened. I now have a small critter scampering around my home, and not the kind you want to eradicate. A gorgeous and fantastical kitten was bestowed upon me by my two best friends, Susan and Travis, as a Christmas present.

Meet Zooey. (Yes, she’s named after Zooey Deschanel. Obviously. It’s all in the eyes.)

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Zooey is quite the interesting little feline. She enjoys playing fetch with her toy mouse, the only one in a large pack of toys that she actually ever touches. She thinks it’s awesome, apparently, to run around the house and have me chase her. She also likes to steal pens from my desk and run away with them, much like the monkey (Annie’s Boobs, to be more specific) on Community.

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As you can imagine, it’s interesting having this new character in my life. But it’s pretty awesome, too. Because for all the times she’s exhibiting kleptomaniacal tendencies, trying to chew through my iPhone charger, or squirming away as I try to remove the gunk from the corners of her eyes, she spends plenty of other moments snuggling against my arm while I peruse Tumblr and Pinterest, waiting outside the bathroom door to make sure I make it out okay, and giving me kitty kneading massages before I go to sleep every night.

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It’s pretty cool having a cat. If that makes me a crazy cat lady who will never find love and will just keep acquiring more and more cats until she’s 80 years old and her home and life resemble those of the Edies of Grey Gardens, so be it.

(Okay, scratch that. I do not want to live in filth and squalor, no matter how hilarious the documentary footage would be to generations of 20-somethings decades in the future.)

Now go look at my cat some more. Go on. You know you want to.

The Perils of Self-Checkout

At some point in the last two weeks, on one of the various television shows I’ve been trying my darnedest to catch up with, someone (Stephen Colbert? Jon Stewart? The cast of Community? Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live? I honestly can’t remember, but I know I didn’t make it up.) told a joke about self-checkout lines. The joke implied that self-checkout lines are supposed to be fast, but actually always take more time than you expected.

When I heard the joke, I rolled my eyes. “Self-checkout lines are a breeze!” I arrogantly said to myself.

“Only an idiot could screw them up.”

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And now I must take it upon myself to consume a large piece of humble pie. Or, maybe just take a bite of it. Because it’s not entirely my fault. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

After leaving work this afternoon, it was time to run some errands. Fill up my car with gas, buy some groceries — you know, the boring stuff. Yay, adulthood! (I’m kidding. I actually love adulthood. But I digress.)

Thus, I went to Wal-Mart. I know what you’re thinking: ‘WHAT?! You shop at the dastardly Wal-Mart? You are no longer half as awesome as I once believed! You should be ashamed of yourself.’ To which I reply, ‘Yes. I do. Quit being such a condescending and judgmental jerkweed. Some of us are on a budget.’

I found a killer parking space, strutted my stuff into the store, snagged a cart, and went about my business. Finally, after dodging the nonstop onslaught of annoying and/or stupid people (Hey, facts are facts.), I made my way to the checkout lines. At this point, I noticed that this particular Wal-Mart had installed a fancy new Self-Checkout area, with plenty of open registers. And hey! I worked at Kohl’s for four years. I know how to operate these fancy-schmancy high-tech contraptions. And even if I didn’t, I’m a strong, capable woman with a solid, working brain in my head. I can figure it out.

And I can! It’s not that I can’t. I promise, I can use a self-checkout machine. I’m not one of those people. The problem is that in those moments when you are at your most self-assured, everything is bound to fall apart. “Pride goeth before the fall,” if you will.

And the fact that I’m not one of those people just makes the situation that much more frustrating, and embarrassing.

I casually sauntered over to a register, pushed my cart into a corner so it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way, and began ringing up my items. Scan — DING! — bag — cart. Easy as pie. Scan — DING! — weigh — bag — cart. I’ve really got the hang of it now! Look at me go! All of these other pathetic customers wish they were as clever and grown-up as I. They wish they didn’t have to call over the attendant every 2.5 seconds because their bratty child accidentally sat on the bagging area.  That’s right, world! Take it all in. I am Allison. Hear me roar.

Then, out of nowhere, the attendant showed up at my register. He scanned his card and walked away. I hadn’t noticed an issue, but oh well. I guess that’s solved.

Then I tried to scan some tomatoes.

After a little difficulty, I finally managed to get the machine to recognize the tiny barcode on the tomatoes. Then I typed in the code on the ticket, just like the machine asked me. I sat the tomatoes down for the machine to weigh them.

And then the machine froze.

I pushed a couple of buttons. Nothing. The attendant came back over, and he too was bewildered as to why this dad-blasted machinery wasn’t working. After a while, he somehow got the screen to move, and I was back on track, just in time to scan my very. last. item. Huzzah!

What’s even better — the machine didn’t calculate the correct weight. So I wasn’t getting charged as much for the tomatoes. That’s what you get for being a spazz, machine! In your face!

But then I scanned my final item, tried to pay, and the machine froze again. I called the young gentleman back over, and he once again couldn’t get it to work. After poking and prodding the buttons and scanning his card, he opened up the case and hit restart.

So I lost the entire transaction. Every item I scanned so fluidly had been in vain. Every box that I so eloquently arranged in a bag for maximum capacity was for naught. The guy had to take everything out, scan it himself, and ring me up the old-fashioned way.

Ugh.

And that’s the epic saga known as the battle between Allison and the self-checkout machine. Will I return to try and fight it once more? Absolutely. I refuse to give up. One day, I will vanquish the mighty beast.

Mark my words. It will be done.

In completely unrelated news, I need to give a shout-out to the lovely chubbymadness, who nominated me for a few blog awards! Namely, the Liebster Award (which I posted about before), and:

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Since I’ve already made a similar post myself, hopefully this will suffice as a genuine thank-you. Thanks, lady! You’re the best!

People’s Choice Awards: Who Had Better Win, or Else

The People’s Choice Awards are tonight, and I’m proud to say that I participated in voting this year! They’ll be on soon, so I thought it’d be fun to give a rundown of who I’m rooting for. Because, ya know… it’s fun to type things, and talk about pop culture, and whatnot.

To check out the full list of nominees, voila. Here goes.

MOVIES!

Favorite Movie – I want The Avengers! If it doesn’t win, I will lose all faith in humanity. Not really. Just a smidge.

Favorite Movie Actor/ActressJoseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Stone/Anne Hathaway. I also would be okay with RDJ and, well… any of the ladies. They’re all awesome and talented and cooler than any of us combined. Let them eat cake! And get trophies.

Favorite Movie IconMeryl Streep. Anything else would be a tragesty. (Yes I did that on purpose. In your face, red spellcheck line. In your fACE.)

Favorite Action Movie and Action Star – Um, hello. AVENGERS. And Chris Evans, because yes please. Give Cappy ALL THE AWARDS.

Favorite Face of Heroism – 1. What does that even mean. They’re all women. So women in action movies? How does “face of heroism” make any sense whatsoever? Why not say “Female Action Star”? You people are weird. 2. Anyone but Kristen Stewart.

Favorite Comedic Movie, Actor, and Actress – So difficult. So much difficulty! I’ll go with 21 Jump Street, Will Ferrell, and Mila Kunis. (Pitch Perfect can win, too. It is my beloved, after all. I feel like I’m cheating on my soulmate here, but 21 Jump Street was exquisite.)

Favorite Dramatic Movie, Actor, and Actress – I literally don’t care at all on the movie; Was Jake Gyllenhaal even in anything this year? I’m so confused. Bradley Cooper. He was outstanding in Silver Linings Playbook. And for the chickadees… Meryl Streep.

Favorite Movie Franchise – How is this even a contest? Avengers.

Favorite Movie Superhero – Okay, I already gave Cappy his credit, so this one I’ll give to Iron Man. Yay RDJ!

Favorite On-Screen Chemistry – If Rachel/Channing win, I will be very annoyed because they did not have very good chemistry in that film. (Love them both, though, otherwise.) Emma and Andrew, hello! It was real life. Of course it was the best.

Favorite Movie Fan Following – I honestly couldn’t care less. Tributes, I suppose.

TELEVISION!

Favorite Network TV Comedy – I watch and love literally all of those options. New Girl it is! (Should’ve been Parks and Rec. Cough. Obviously. Cough.)

Favorite Network TV DramaOnce Upon a Time

Favorite Cable TV ComedyIt’s Always Sunny

Favorite Cable TV Drama – I’m skipping this category (and crime drama and sci-fi/fantasy) because just looking at it bores me.

Favorite Premium Cable TV Show – True Blood! aka the only one I watch, so it’s the only one that matters. (Shh. Calm down. I’m sure your shows are good too. I just haven’t watched them. I watch a lot of things, okay? I can’t watch it all! I do have to go outside and look at the sky once in a while!)

Favorite Comedic TV Actor, ActressJim Parsons and Zooey Deschanel. They are presh human beings. Also, so many people I would’ve picked over the other options. Wake up, whoever picked the nominees. You suck.

Skipping more stuff because yawwwwwn…

Favorite Celebrity JudgeADAM. MOFOING. LEVINE. This is the only logical choice, children.

Favorite TV Fan Following – Parks Nerds! Oh, that’s not an option? Human Beings! Oh, not that either? Fine, I guess… Gleeks.

Favorite New TV ComedyThe Mindy Project. I loves her muchly.

MUSIC!

Favorite Male, Female ArtistJason Mraz, Adele

Favorite Pop, Hip Hop, R&B Artists Adele, Flo Rida, Bruno Mars

Favorite BandMaroon 5

Favorite Country ArtistCarrie or Tim

Favorite Breakout ArtistFun.

Favorite SongOne More Night, We Are Young, or What Makes You Beautiful

Favorite AlbumSome Nights

Annnnnnnd don’t care about the rest!

Now let’s see if any of my faves win! If they don’t… I’ll do something horrifying. Actually I won’t. Because it’s not that important. I may rant about it on Twitter. That’s probably the extent of my reaction.

Let’s do this thing!

The Liebster Award

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Thanks to my friend Heather Pechin who runs a blog over at pechinspizzaoftheweek.blogspot.com, I have been given an award! Whaaaat! It’s called the Liebster Award, and it seems to be sort of chain letter-y; as in, I don’t actually get it unless I pass it on to other people.

Therein lies the problem. I don’t really read any blogs. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true! I mostly follow Tumblr “blogs,” which don’t contain any actual writing. So I am in a pickle! Who do I award?

I guess I’ll just go with people I actually know in real life who blog! Four friends/coworkers/ex-coworkers who have blogs:

  • Natalie Moya – She’s my coworker/editor at ChaCha, and she writes a wordpress blog about her life. Go check her out!
  • Emily – She’s my ex-coworker who at one time wrote music/health/fitness content for ChaCha, and she runs a consistently updated blog that you all should read!
  • Sheryl Hugill – Sheryl runs girl vs. planet, and she talks about travel, photography, and other such things that she loves. Yay Sheryl!
  • Sarah Eutsler – I met Sarah via Twitter, and aside from her own blog, she runs Twenty Something Indy, a site for 20-somethings in Indianapolis. (Obviously.)

Now I am apparently supposed to write 11 facts about myself, so here goes:

  1. I broke my arm during the summer before 6th grade, because I fell while rollerblading. If that’s not a typical tale from the 90s, I don’t know what is.
  2. I had braces four separate times. Because, you know, I’m special like that.
  3. I really wish I looked and dressed like Blair on Gossip Girl. Really, really.
  4. I don’t have a smart phone. I use a purple flip phone that cost me around $10.
  5. I saw Titanic in theaters 10 times. 6 during its first run, and 4 during the 3D run. I get some sort of prize for that, right? Best Fan Ever Prize? Craziest Lunatic On Earth Award?
  6. I don’t drink coffee and I barely drink alcohol. People always tell me that’s strange, or lame, or pathetic, but I just see it as wanting to drink things that actually taste good. Though I must say, pina coladas are amazing and wonderful.
  7. I’m currently watching the series finale of Gossip Girl, and I’m not ashamed. And yes, that is why #3 happened.
  8. I like flocked wallpaper, all because of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
  9. I am as obsessed with Parks and Recreation as most men are with football. Yes, that much.
  10. I still have my tonsils, and they’re insanely huge.
  11. I had to perform a solo song at a recital in college, and it was the worst day of my life.

The 25 Essential Movies of Christmas

Christmastime is upon us! And what better way to celebrate than by watching ridiculous amounts of Christmas movies? Grab some baked goods and hot chocolate and settle in on the couch for a long winter’s movie marathon.

We have tons of holiday-related films to choose from, and most of them are at least good enough to be background noise while you write out Christmas cards or bake cookies, but not all of them are important enough to watch every year.

So which ones are the best? Which ones are worthy of annual Christmastime viewing? Let’s count ’em down! In no particular order:

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1. Home Alone (1990)

A bratty young boy wakes up to find that his family accidentally left him at home when they rushed to the airport for a Christmas vacation to France. Oops! Of course all sorts of shenanigans ensue, including his setting a thousand booby traps to ward off two doofy bandits who are dead set on stealing his wealthy family’s goodies. It’s the movie that made Macaulay Culkin a household name, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s time to remedy that situation. Keep the change, ya filthy animal. (For extra fun, make it a triple feature with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Home Alone 3.)

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2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Everyone loves a good old fashioned family Christmas, right? Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) sure does, and he’ll stop at nothing to make sure his family has the most epic Christmas season ever. There’s only one problem: he’s got the most dysfunctional family ever, and not even the best party planner could pull off a Griswold Family Christmas without a hitch. By the time Cousin Eddie shows up in his RV, any chance of holiday normalcy went down the tubes of Eddie’s on-the-road toilet and right down the sewer drain. Fun fact: the youngest Griswold kid, Russ, was played by Johnny Galecki, who now appears as Leonard on The Big Bang Theory.

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3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The title of best Christmas movie of all time probably belongs to It’s a Wonderful Life, which has been making audiences cry tears of joy around the holidays for decades. It may be an old black-and-white offering, but it’s amazing just how relevant it still is today! The film tells the story of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a man whose dreams of an adventurous and glamorous life far away from his po-dunk hometown are constantly put on the back burner as he gives up his interests in order to help his friends and family. After something goes horribly wrong with his business, it’s the last straw for George. Luckily, his guardian angel comes to the rescue, showing him how much worse off the world would be if he had never been born. If you don’t laugh, gasp, and cry while watching this movie, you may not have a soul.

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4. The Santa Clause (1994)

In The Santa Clause, Tim Allen stars as Scott Calvin, a man whose life gets turned upside-down when he accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall off of his roof on Christmas Eve.  When his son urges him to put on the suit, it sends him on a whirlwind adventure in which he becomes the new Santa Claus. You can’t go wrong with this holiday classic. You just can’t. (Skip the sequels, though. They pale by comparison.)

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5. Elf (2003)

Elf is hands-down the best Christmas movie to be released since 2000. Starring Will Ferrell and a very blonde Zooey Deschanel, it tells the story of a human baby who gets adopted by an elf at the North Pole after he sneaks into Santa’s bag while he was visiting the orphanage on Christmas night. After he grows up, he discovers that he is human and sets off on a journey to New York City to meet his birth father. Will Ferrell’s movies tend to be a bit raunchy, but that isn’t the case with Elf! It’s perfectly acceptable viewing for children, and it’s fun for all ages. I highly recommend that you check it out if you haven’t already!

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6. A Christmas Story (1983)

There’s a reason that A Christmas Story is played on television for 24 straight hours every Christmas Day: it’s an incredible Christmas movie that is beloved by just about everyone! In the movie, a boy named Ralphie meets up with all sorts of obstacles when he tells his family and schoolteacher about the one gift he wants to receive: a Red Ryder BB Gun with a compass in the stock and “this thing which tells time.”

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7. Just Friends (2005)

Just Friends is a comedy movie starring Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris that is set entirely within the Christmas season. When recording executive Chris Brander (Reynolds) winds up stranded in his home state of New Jersey around Christmastime with his latest music client/ex-girlfriend/crazy person Samantha James (Faris), he’s in for quite an experience. As it turns out, he hadn’t been home in 10 years after a humiliating experience at a high school graduation party, in which he expressed his love for his best friend, Jamie, and was mocked by the entire school and “friend-zoned” by Jamie, who said that she loved him “like a brother.” Upon his return, he runs into Jamie at the town bar and takes it upon himself to woo her with his newfound charm, good looks, and suave attitude. Of course things don’t go exactly as he had planned, and hilarity ensues when Samantha finds out about his plot.

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8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

This classic TV special is an obvious must-watch around Christmastime! If you don’t know the story of Rudolph by now, here’s the skinny: Rudolph is a reindeer who, instead of getting blessed with a normal black nose like the rest of his peers and family members, was born with a bright red nose. When he’s mocked and mistreated for his silly-looking “deformity,” he runs away from home. Eventually, though, [SPOILER ALERT] it’s discovered that his red nose has its benefits, and he winds up saving Christmas when he joins Santa’s sleigh team and guides the rest of the crew through a major snowstorm on Christmas night.

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9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

One year after Rudolph took the TV world by storm, another classic Christmas TV special debuted: A Charlie Brown Christmas. This short film featured the entire Peanuts gang, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, Linus, etc. As a depressed Charlie Brown struggles to discover the true meaning of Christmas, the gang works to put together a Christmas nativity play.

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10. Frosty the Snowman (1969)

While we’re on the topic of classic Christmas specials, here’s another one that I’ve always loved: Frosty the Snowman! This one tells the story we all know from the Christmas tune, in which Frosty is a snowman that comes to life when some local kids put a magic hat on his head. Unfortunately, snowmen melt, and thus Frosty’s life is in danger, but not only because winter will eventually draw to a close; the magician who owns the hat that brought Frosty to life fights against the kids to get his hat back. If you don’t know how this one plays out, give the song a listen or watch the special! Spoiler alert: everyone lives happily ever after.

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11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

The last 1960s TV special on the list is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was of course based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. Here’s a quick plot rundown: The Grinch hates Christmas, so he sets out to destroy the holiday for everyone in Whoville. After he steals all of the food, decorations, and presents and stows them away at his mountaintop lair, he’s surprised to hear the whos still celebrating. When he realizes that he didn’t ruin the holiday at all because it wasn’t about the material objects, he changes his ways and returns everything to the town just in time.

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12. White Christmas (1954)

Another old school Christmas movie that everyone should see is White Christmas, which stars Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby as two army buddies who join forces after World War II to perform as a music duo. As a result, the film contains a lot of incredible music numbers, including “Sisters,” “Snow,” and “White Christmas.”

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13. The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

I’m not generally a big fan of remakes, but in this case I make an exception! The Preacher’s Wife stars Denzel Washington as a guardian angel named Dudley who visits a preacher’s family around Christmastime as they are struggling with their church’s finances. As Dudley gets closer to the preacher’s wife, Julia (played by Whitney Houston), he begins to see the strained relationship between her and her husband. Though Dudley has the best of intentions, his efforts start to complicate the situation when he gets a bit too close to Julia and their relationship comes into question by her mother and husband.

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14. Miracle on 34th Street (1947, 1994)

Some may disagree, but I enjoyed both versions of Miracle on 34th Street: the original 1947 film starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood, and the 1994 version featuring Mara Wilson. Whichever film you choose to watch is up to you, but either way you’re in for a treat!

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15. Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

I know, I know. A lot of people despise Ernest films, and more power to them. But they’re totally my thing, and I grew up with them.  Therefore, I couldn’t live with myself if I left this Christmas movie off of the list! Know what I mean? In Ernest Saves Christmas, our favorite lovable goofball Ernest finds himself giving a taxi ride to the real Santa Claus, who is in town to find his replacement. As the story develops, we find that his chosen replacement isn’t so keen on the idea of becoming Santa (and he doesn’t really believe the story in the first place), so Ernest and Santa have to find a way to convince him to take the job before Christmas Day arrives.

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16. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Yep, you read that right! Now we’re talking about the Jim Carrey-fronted modern remake of the classic TV special. Since you already know the basics, I’ll just say this: they added enough new material to this film to make it great in its own right. To really fill out your holiday season, make sure to fit both movies in to your viewing schedule!

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17. Love Actually (2003)

The British romantic comedy film Love Actually follows the stories of many characters and their various related and unrelated story lines as Christmas approaches. It would take paragraphs for me to fully explain all of the relationships in the film, so you’ll just have to watch it for yourself to find out! The movie stars Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, and Rowan Atkinson.

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18. The Holiday (2006)

This movie may not be on most people’s lists of the best Christmas movies, but mine wouldn’t be complete without it. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz play Iris and Amanda, two women from completely different worlds who have very bad luck in the romantic department. When their lives seem to be a complete wreck, they arrange to swap homes for the Christmas season. Iris heads to California, where she meets an elderly man and also a film music composer named Miles (Jack Black) who help her get out of her rut. In the meantime, Amanda travels to England, where she falls into a steamy romance with Iris’ brother, Graham (Jude Law). My favorite half of the movie: Iris and Miles. They’re simply adorable, and I can’t get enough of their friendship.

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19. The Family Stone (2005)

I have to be honest; the first time I saw The Family Stone was in theaters, and I absolutely hated it. But I watched it for a second time this year and I have to say that I was dead wrong. It’s actually an excellent movie, albeit a tearjerker. The movie tells the story of a young woman, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), who goes to visit her boyfriend’s family over Christmas. His family isn’t so fond of her, and as you can imagine, things get a teensy bit dramatic as Christmas approaches. Make sure to have tissues handy for this one! My favorite characters: Rachel McAdams as Amy, Luke Wilson as Ben, and Diane Keaton as Sybil.

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20. Gremlins (1984)

Looking for a Christmas movie that’s a bit out of the ordinary so you can mix things up this year? Gremlins is technically a Christmas movie! In the movie, a man gives an adorable little creature to his son as a Christmas gift with three rules: 1. Never expose it to light, 2. Never get it wet, and 3. Never feed it after midnight. But when those rules are accidentally broken, the creature turns out to be more than he can handle. After the gremlins multiply, they wreak havoc on the town, and he has to try to regain control of the situation before they destroy everything.

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21. Die Hard (1984)

Did you know that Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie? It’s true. When John McClane (Bruce Willis) goes to a company Christmas party on Christmas Eve to work things out with his estranged wife, his plan is disrupted when terrorists take over the building and keep everyone inside as hostages. Then it’s up to McClane, who escaped their clutches, to save the day!

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22. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

A movie that features a reindeer sweater counts as a Christmas movie, right? Let’s go with it! In Bridget Jones’s Diary, a 30-something single woman who is worried about her weight struggles to better her life and her relationships. Her efforts tend to fail horribly, but it’s entertaining to watch her try! Fun Fact: Renée Zellweger was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for the movie.

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23. Mean Girls (2004)

Okay, I admit it; this one isn’t really a Christmas movie. But it contains enough Christmasy goodness to make it mandatory viewing around the holidays! A teen girl (Lindsay Lohan) who was once homeschooled in Africa moves back to the states and begins attending public school, only to get sucked into the fast-paced and shallow world of American high school. Two key scenes qualify Mean Girls as appropriate for this list: 1. A student dressed as Santa Claus gives out candy canes to students (“Four for you, Glen Coco!”), and 2. The Plastics (the popular girls in school) perform a too-sexy-for-school rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock,” complete with skimpy Santa-themed costumes.

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24. Love Story (1970)

In Love Story, a well-to-do Harvard boy named Oliver (Ryan O’Neil) meets and subsequently falls for Jenny (Ali MacGraw), a snarky Radcliffe graduate from a poor family. Their romance blossoms until they receive some news they never expected, and the tale comes to a close during the Christmas season. You’ll want tissues for this one, too.

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25. To Grandmother’s House We Go (1992)

You can’t go wrong with the Olsen Twins! (Shhhh. They stopped working after Two of a Kind. You can’t convince me otherwise.) In this adorable TV movie, the dynamic duo go on an adventure to their grandmother’s house for Christmas when they overhear their mother saying that they are a “handful.” Fun Fact: Three of the twins’ Full House co-stars made cameo appearances, including Bob Saget, Lori Laughlin, and Candace Cameron.

There you have it! Now you’ve got a solid list of movies to check out before Christmas Day arrives. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen every Christmas movie ever made, and some of them I just haven’t seen in a very long time and don’t remember at all. One of your favorites probably falls into one of those categories, so I apologize if I somehow offended you by omitting it here.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Let’s Talk About Thanksgiving, Baby

Collage of Thanksgiving Photos

It’s that time of year again! That time when everyone and their mother makes a list of what they’re thankful for. It’s so cliché, isn’t it?

But here I am doing just that. Let’s get down to business! (To defeat the Huns…)

I’m thankful…

  • That I’ve never been physically or emotionally abused.
  • That I have grown into a person that I am proud to be.
  • For an incredible lineup of family and friends who have helped make me into that person I am proud to be.
  • That women and men struggled in the past so that women like me would have the same rights as men (like the right to vote).
  • That I’m in good health.
  • That my loved ones are in good health.
  • That I’m not stuck in a loveless marriage.
  • That I have a job that I love and no longer have to work retail.

And on a less serious note:

  • That so many wonderfully hilarious TV shows are on the air for me to obsess over
  • That the internet exists and is filled with glorious things that keep me entertained on the daily
  • That chickens don’t have large talons
  • That men no longer get frosted tips
  • For Christmas lights
  • That I get to sleep in on Black Friday
  • That kittens exist
  • That I’m not Lindsay Lohan

I hope you all have a most excellent holiday and that you spend it with awesome people who love you! Eat food. It’s good for you.

And tell me in the comments what your favorite Thanksgiving dish is. If you don’t live in the U.S. and don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, tell me about your favorite kind of meat.

Just go with it, okay?

Glee: The New/Old Class

I have the ultimate love/hate relationship with Glee. Although I find ridiculous amounts of fault with the show, I can’t help but watch, and for whatever reason I still enjoy it.

But I noticed something about the fourth season that I felt compelled to point out, because it’s just so obvious and meticulous and bothersome to me:

The new class.

In many shows involving high school students, the kids don’t really age. They’re perpetually stuck in the high school environment, and the cast stays together until the show comes to its final episode. With Glee, it’s different, and it’s different on purpose. Ryan Murphy didn’t want to include the lie of “forever young” in his show. He wanted his characters to age, graduate, and move on with their lives.

Though that did disrupt the show for many viewers, it’s a fair choice to make. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that when certain characters graduated, new characters were introduced to fill in the gaps left by the old fan favorites, and instead of bringing in actual new characters, we get to watch the same old plots play out with the same old characters with new names.

Here’s the old cast vs new cast:

  • Finn Hudson/Ryder Lynn, the football player who is not very bright and secretly can sing classic rock tunes pretty well
  • Rachel Berry/Marley Rose, the innocent outcast with a beautiful solo-friendly voice who wears quirky clothes and becomes romantically involved with Finn/Ryder and Puck/Jake
  • Quinn Fabray/Kitty, the snooty blonde uber-Christian cheerleader who makes Rachel/Marley’s life a living hell while romantically toying with Finn/Ryder and Puck/Jake, and oh yeah she decides to join glee club to mess with Rachel/Marley and defend her relationship with Finn/Ryder and/or Puck/Jake
  • Mercedes Jones/Wade “Unique” Adams, the stylish and flashy African-American diva who causes the group to second-guess traditional casting/solo choices

I literally would not be surprised if season four involves Kitty getting pregnant with Jake’s baby, Wade battling it out with Marley for multiple solo parts, and Ryder dropping out of glee club when he gets teased by the other football players. In other words, the exact plots of seasons 1-2 with new names for the characters.

And when Artie, Tina, and Blaine graduate, you can bet they’ll quickly be replaced by a new handicapable student, an asian who never gets solos, and a fabulously dressed white gay boy. Mark my words.

What do you think about this? Do you like the new characters, or are you annoyed that they’re basically just reusing everything that happened in the first two seasons?