Holiday Movies

Thanksgiving is officially over, which means it’s now Christmas season. While most people started celebrating Christmas about a month ago, I don’t even start thinking about any of my Christmas traditions until the day after Thanksgiving, at the earliest. That being said, in honor of the upcoming Christmas season, I’ve decided to list my favorite Christmas movies:

1) Elf: Will Ferrell parading around NYC in an Elf costume? Sold! Even though this movie came out when I was much older than it’s target audience, it was one of my instant favorites. I tend to watch this one even when it’s nowhere near Christmas just because I find it that funny (admittedly, I have a childish sense of humor).

2) A Christmas Story: This one is a staple for a lot of people, including me. It has been one of my favorites since I was a kid but TBS has kinda killed my love for it a little–no one needs a 24-hour non-stop marathon of this movie. Once a season will suffice. Just sayin’.

3) Home Alone: Not one of the more traditional choices on the list but I have to put it on here because it was one I grew up watching every Christmas. It also reminds me of a time when the world was a simpler place, a time when Macaulay Culkin was still relevant.

4) How the Grinch Stole Christmas: This is not referring to the live-action Jim Carrey version of the movie, but the original animated one. In other words, the good one.

5) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I’m sure this one makes a lot of people’s lists, and rightly so. Something about watching the Griswold’s endure fiasco after fiasco in hilarious fashion just says Christmas.

Just to be clear, I don’t sit and watch these movies in marathon-mode from the day after thanksgiving until Christmas Day, but I do make an effort to enjoy one or two of them during the holiday season. The older I get, the less effort I seem to make, but it is one of the few traditions that I actually try to follow. I guess it’s my way of “getting into the Christmas spirit…”

Working During the Holidays

It’s no secret that working in food service is not the most glamorous or desirable job in the world, but working in food service during the holidays is tantamount to torture. I work in the deli at a “gourmet” grocery store and for the majority of the year, it’s not a bad job. I get free food, I’m friends with my coworkers, I have a somewhat flexible schedule, and it’s not too mentally exhausting…except during the holidays. That’s when all hell breaks loose. The following is a list of the reasons the next month of my life at work is basically going to suck:

1) The stupid questions:

You need to call a deli to find out how to reheat mashed potatoes and green beans? Really? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve explained how to reheat pre-cooked food. For the record, there are only 2 ways: oven or microwave. Heat until desired temperature is reached. You’re welcome.

One of my co-workers got a phone call from a customer asking where they could find their spoons in their own kitchen. Keep in mind that said co-worker had never been to this customers house. Who doesn’t know where their own spoons are in their house? And since when do deli workers know the exact layout of your kitchen? I guess I missed that day during my job training…

2) Lack of appreciation/consideration:

I realize that as a lowly sandwich making peon, I don’t deserve VIP treatment from customers, but a little consideration and appreciation would go a long way. It’s amazing to me how disrespectful some of the people I wait on are. They demand special treatment, they expect to be waited on within roughly 2 seconds of approaching the counter and are flabbergasted if they have to wait any longer than that, and after being waited on in a speedy and efficient manner, about 40-50% of them walk away without saying “thank you.” Way to truly get into the holiday spirit people!

3) Last minute orders:

This one kind of ties into the last one on the list… We do wait on more than just one person where I work, (one of those capitalism principles–more people=more money) so I’m sorry I cannot drop the six other things I’m doing to make you a twelve pound fruit tray. Maybe try giving us more than 20 minutes notice. Not only is it the nice thing to do, it’s realistic. I don’t walk into a restaurant and expect them to have my meal ready and waiting on the table when I sit down…it’s the same concept.

4) Burn out on holiday food/holiday season:

I once worked at a bank as a teller. People used to ask me if it was hard to look at and handle all of that money without being tempted to take it. I always gave them the same answer: after a while, you start viewing it like Monopoly money–it somehow loses it’s appeal. The same is true with working in food service. After talking turkey with so many people, taking a hundred Thanksgiving orders, and seeing holiday food for weeks on end, I’m over it by the time Thanksgiving or Christmas roll around. Maybe this year I’ll just drink my dinner–wine is good for you, right?

5) Black Friday:

The term dreaded by retail workers around the US. Insane amounts of people flock to the malls to procure the latest “it” item(s), traffic is a nightmare no matter what your proximity to any given shopping center, and shoppers will gladly run you down if you get between them and that 70% off rack. But in the food service world working on Black Friday sucks for a different reason: it’s incredibly boring. Once people buy their thanksgiving meals from us, they drop us like a bad habit in order to go be pompous and rude to retail employees. Sorry retail folks, it’s your turn to be devalued and degraded!

Desperate Times and Redbox

My cable has been out for over a month (it might help if I paid the bill but that seems too easy), so I’ve been entertaining myself with a slew of Redbox rentals. I haven’t really been much of a Redbox fan in the last year or so because it seems like it takes them forever to get any decent titles in, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I decided to write a review for one of the rentals that actually kind of surprised me: “The Purge.”

It should be noted that I’m not a big fan of horror/gore movies, but I do like a good suspense/thriller. I’m not so sure I would categorize “The Purge” as such, but it had it’s moments. The basic premise is that one night a year, for a twelve hour period, all crime is legal. This is done to allow people to “purge” (oh, I see what they did there) themselves of the frustration/aggression that’s built up over the past year. The movie centers around Ethan Hawke and his family being taunted by aristocratic college students who want to kill the homeless man said family is harboring. The character development left something to be desired in my opinion, but that’s often the case with movies of this type–the plot is driven much more by the action than the characters. But I digress…

The main thing that surprised me about this movie is the attempt at realism. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s cheesy, “wtf” moments, but overall it seemed like a somewhat realistic premise: creating a utopian society through the allowance of regulated violence. They didn’t insult the audience’s intelligence too much by creating implausible scenarios and there was enough action to hold my attention.

The ending left a little something to be desired in my opinion but I liked the fact that it wasn’t a totally “happily ever after” ending. I’m not saying it’s the best movie I’ve seen (recently, or ever) but it was worth the $1.20 I paid for it…

‘Tis [Not] the Season…

So, Christmas is just around the corner…oh, wait, it’s only the beginning of November? Oh that’s right–we won’t even celebrate Thanksgiving for another 3 weeks! Hmm… Well then, I’d like to know why there is already Christmas music blasting on local radio stations the day after Halloween (seriously, I had to change my presets). And why are people already putting up Christmas lights (maybe they leave them up year round?)?!

I don’t understand this new trend with Christmas festivities beginning earlier and earlier every year. Not trying to sound like the Grinch, but am I the only one who thinks all of this early Christmas cheer is a bit overzealous and severely premature?

When I was growing up, I always looked forward to Christmas (who doesn’t?) but it is only in recent memory that I’ve noticed how long Christmas seems. The only conclusion I can draw is that it’s a way to amp up consumerism. The more reminders we get that Christmas is coming up, the more excited we are for “Black Friday,” and “sales,” and the more excited we are, the more money we spend. Smart tactic, but I’m not falling for it! I’ll do my Christmas shopping in mid-late December like I always do, thank you very much. And I’ll wait until after Thanksgiving to put up my Christmas decorations and enjoy a select few Christmas songs…

Its still one of my favorite holidays and I look forward I spending time with my loved ones as much as the next person, but can’t we celebrate closer to December 25th? You don’t see me going around throwing confetti and saying it’s 2014, so stop acting like it’s Christmas in November! Just sayin’…

Happy Halloween!

Kids-Halloween-Events-in-Oakland

With October 31st beginning in just a few minutes, I decided to get into the spirit and share my top 5 favorite Halloween traditions (in order of preference):

1) Halloween/Costume Parties: In my opinion, some of the best people-watching occurs on Halloween. Going to a costume party/contest at a bar ensures that you will see some very interesting and creative costumes. And even better: drunk people in interesting and creative costumes. The general trend seems to be: the longer the night goes on, the more run-down the costume gets. And when the wigs and costume pieces start to come off and the make-up starts to run, everyone begins to look unintentionally scary. That’s the cue to leave. Still, that being said, I still think it’s one of the most fun nights of the year to go out.

2) Dressing Up: It’s not everyday that you get to dress up like a pirate, your favorite movie/tv/literary character, or a zombie and not have people give you weird looks. Halloween offers children and adults alike the perfect excuse to wear a ridiculous outfit and go out in public without fear of reproach. Personally, I never go too crazy with my costumes; I usually just pick something simple and do heavy makeup and a crazy hairstyle. It’s still fun…some of my best memories of Halloween involve the getting ready process vs. the actual activities.

3) Giving Out Candy: As much as I enjoyed dressing up and going trick-or-treating as a kid, it’s so much more fun to stay home and give out candy. I’m not the most maternal person in the world, but even I have to admit that little kids in costumes are downright adorable. And they’re always so polite, giving the obligatory and well-rehearsed “thank you” after receiving their candy. Aww! Not to mention, if only a few kids show up at my door, I’ve got Reese Cups and mini Snickers for days, and I didn’t even have to leave the comfort of my home. Bonus!

4) Watching Scary Movies: Cable television has programmed me to incorporate scary movies into my Halloween routine (much like I have to watch “A Christmas Story” thirty times on Christmas Eve/Day). As a lifelong fan of movies, there are some classic horror movies that I have to watch to truly get into the spirit of the holiday. Anything with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers will do.

5) Carving Pumpkins: A tedious but rewarding task. I usually end up waiting until the last minute to even buy a pumpkin, which means I’m usually carving the night before Halloween. I’m not a great sculptor by any means, but I’ve carved out some pretty sweet pumpkins in my time. With the kits you can buy, even I can look talented! I am kinda sad that I didn’t have time to carve one this Halloween, but it’s been fun to see the ones that non-slackers have come up with this year…

Bride[smaid]zilla….

bridesmaid 2

Most people are familiar with the term “bridezilla;” for those of you who aren’t, it’s simply a term that describes a bride planning a wedding who basically loses her mind due to the stress of organizing said wedding. But I think it’s possible for bridesmaids to have their own version of this. I believe this because I think I’m currently experiencing it! One of my best friends is getting married in a couple of weeks and it has been a nightmare for me–and I’m just a bridesmaid. Granted, I’ve never been in a wedding before (as an adult) so maybe my expectations are the problem, but wow, weddings suck! I’ve decided to compile a list of why I am going through what I call “bridesmaidzilla syndrome:”

1) Expense: weddings can get crazy expensive apparently. For a three hour party (ceremony and reception), I will have spent roughly $1000 of my hard-earned (and not really disposable) income. For a party. Yes, I’m aware that it’s more than just a party, it’s a ceremony, and a right of passage, blah, blah, blah…but after footing the bill for a dress I’ll wear once, a hairdo that will be flat by the end of the day, gifts for the happy couple, etc., it’s hard to justify the cost. There has to be a limit. This isn’t Kate Middleton and Prince William we’re talking about after all…

2) Stress: for those readers who have been in, or had their own wedding, I’m sure you know it’s not without a lot of stress. It makes sense–it’s a lot to juggle and coordinate, but just from my perspective, it’s been more stress than it’s worth. My dress was ordered incorrectly so I have to wait for the right one to come in, get fitted, and have it altered; the kicker is: it’s supposed to arrive less than one week before the wedding. Really? A bridal shop’s job is to order dresses, charging exorbitant prices of course, and for what? I could have ordered my dress online and had it here and altered in plenty of time. I admit, I might be a little bitter.

3) Time: bridal showers, bachelorette weekends, rehearsal dinners, plus the wedding day itself. Who has time for all of that? I’m taking 15 credit hours this semester, working on getting an internship, working a minimum of 25 hours a week, doing homework, and somehow trying to find time to have a little bit of a social life [so I don't completely lose my mind]. I did raise this concern to my friend who simply replied with “everyone works full-time and they’re coming to X event.” Thanks for understanding.

4) Disclosure: here I am ranting about how much I hate being a bridesmaid on a blog. Can I bring these concerns to the bride, my friend? Absolutely not! My “job” as her bridesmaid is to help her from getting more stressed out and that means keeping my complaints (mostly) to myself. I could make a killing exclusively counseling bridesmaids. Just sayin’.

With all of that being said, I should add that it’s not that I’m not happy for my friend and her fiancé (I am), I just don’t understand why a person would spend $30,000 for one day when they could just have a small ceremony with close friends and family. My only consolation is that in a matter of days, my living nightmare will be over. Hopefully that means that my stress level will plummet and my bank account will be back on the rise. Clearly I’m not “bridesmaid material.” I am taking a lesson away from this experience: if/when I get married, I’m eloping…

It’s Back!

WD S4It’s hard to remember the last time I watched a TV show on any channel other than AMC; with shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead,” what’s the point? While “Breaking Bad” has ended it’s brilliant run, “The Walking Dead” returned this past Sunday with the season four premiere. I really try not to get my hopes up with shows (especially premiere episodes), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not disappointed with this one.

The show opens with the survivors from last season living a fairly peaceful life in the prison where they’ve taken refuge. The group is much larger now, having taken in several other survivors, but they all seem to co-exist very well together and are working toward making some kind of normal life for themselves amongst the chaos outside of the prison’s walls. Some of the more beloved characters make their appearances (Michonne, Daryl, and of course Rick), but this episode was more of an introduction to the newer characters, their personalities, and how they interact with the original survivors. The relative normalcy of the first few minutes of the episode was a bit off-putting at first. Where was all the drama and thrill that drew me in to begin with? It wasn’t far behind. Nothing is ever simple in WD; things never go the way you expect, which is part of what makes the show so great in my opinion. I was given the action I craved less than halfway through the episode when a group goes out on a supply run and is unexpectedly attacked by “walkers” falling from the sky. That’s more like it.

I hate spoilers so I’m not going to give anything away or bore you with an episode synopsis. I will say that the premiere  wasn’t action-packed but the writers set the stage for the rest of the season beautifully, so I’m anxious to see what they have in store for us. I guess you could say they left me hungry for more…I’ll definitely be tuning in again Sunday!