Twelve Days of Christmas Movies

It’s time for a post about Christmas movies. Scrooges out there, I am fully aware that it’s not December yet. But I waited until Thanksgiving is officially over, and I think

I’ve been patient enough. Bring on the Bing Crosby, gingerbread cookies, and pretending the heater vent is a crackling fire.

Here’s my list of the top twelve Christmas movies, not necessarily in order or ranked, that are the most festive without being annoying or overdone. (Cue “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”)

1. Christmas Vacation (1989)

A Christmas classic. The season wouldn’t be the same without Audrey’s frozen eyes, Clark’s lights fiasco, and of course cousin Eddie. Not to mention the fact that Elaine from Seinfeld even makes a debut as a stuck up neighbor.

p.s. it’s crazy how old Chevy Chase looks now. Anyone else watch Community?

2. Love Actually (2003)

Nothing says Christmas like British accents and a movie where the quiet boy gets the girl. The wanna-be American versions that keep coming out, like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, will never have the same charm.

3. Elf (2003)

A classic comedy from Will Ferrell’s good days. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” And who doesn’t love Zooey Deschanel.

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (original)

The original cartoon version of course. No offense to Jim Carrey, but he’s just not scary enough. Also, Cindy Lou Who, aka Taylor Momsen, not the best role model anymore with those raccoon eyes! Maybe the kids of the 2000s will think otherwise, but the kids of the 90s won’t turn our backs on the original 1966 Dr. Seuss Grinch.

5. The Holiday (2006)

I know there’s a lot of Cameron Diaz haters out there, but this is one of those movies where her unchanging pretty-successful-flustered character no matter what movie is perfect. Also, who can turn down Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law? I watch this movie and dream of a cozy cottage in England while Drew dreams of the nice house in LA. It’s only been 5 years since this came out and already this rental store scene dates it:

6. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

This is one of those movies that can still be watched year round (and should be) but still has enough Christmas to make it festive. It revolves around her progress each year after her resolutions and of course her parent’s Christmas party. Bridget’s sad existence is hilarious, and her self-pitying activities are pretty relatable. And, two words: Colin Firth.

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Pretty much any Harry Potter movie will do, but I chose this one because of the Yule Ball and of course the Weird Sisters rock out scene. This time, it’s three unforgettable words: “Happy Christmas, Harry.” I would upload a clip but all of them have been deleted for copyright infringement, and all that’s left are super cheesy/hilarious fan vids.

8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

A classic Leo movie, especially if you are craving some Leo after watching Kate in The Holiday, and are holding out from watching the Titanic until it comes out in theaters again in April like me. This one makes the Christmas list because of the annual phone call Frank makes to Carl. I also love this movie because of how lonely you feel just like Frank and Carl who spend their lives at work or running away, which emphasizes the importance of family and friends during Christmastime.

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol (original)

Although I wouldn’t mind watching the new one in theaters this year, nothing beats the Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992. Maybe this is just another 90s kid thing, but the Christmas spirit brings me back to my childhood. And it should bring you back to yours too, even if it wasn’t the best childhood. Who doesn’t want to feel the mysticism, wonder, and unquestioning joy that revolved around Santa and the Christmas spirit like you did when you were a kid?

Side note: The Muppet Christmas Carol isn’t on Netflix, even though if you google it, it shows up under the Netflix link, but it’s nowhere to be found when you actually go to the website. Yet another Netflix letdown.

10. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

I’m sure many of you have a different favorite Disney movie for the holidays. But for some reason, one of my favorites growing up was the Lady and the Tramp. Nothing says Christmas like a puppy in a box with ribbon! Those Siamese cats are pretty scary, but I will always love Lady and the Tramp.

11. Die Hard (1988)

This one’s for Brian Jarchow. I watched this for the first time a couple weeks ago. Granted, it’s not the most Christmasy movie around. Apparently he watches it before bed EVERY Christmas Eve. This one is for the guys out there who need an action movie that just happens to revolve around Christmastime to break up the succession of romcom, cartoon, and comedy Christmas movies.

12. Seinfeld “Festivus for the Rest of Us” episode

I decided to include an iconic Christmas TV episode on here. Nothing else on TV comes close to the hilarity of Seinfeld’s Festivus episode. Time to air your grievances and make this a holiday season to remember.

I do not own the rights to any of these video clips. This blog is for creative purposes only and not for monetary gain, and I do not condone the illegal download of movies or videos. Help save the internet & fight against the Protect IP/SOPA Act recently introduced in the Senate. If this bill, or the new House bill that was just introduced, is passed, it would mean my blog and many others would be censored by the government for copyright infringement just for one post like this. If anything, posts like this provide free advertisement for the films. The companies behind Protect IP or SOPA are using the context that it will protect jobs, but if passed it threatens websites we love like YouTube, Tumblr, and Facebook, and leaves the average person even more susceptible to crippling lawsuits just for uploading something online that has a song in the background. To learn more, go to www.americancensorship.org.

Why You Should Stop Hating on Coldplay

I’ve never understood why many people always have this vendetta against Coldplay. Of all the ridiculous and horrible music that’s out there today on the radio, Coldplay is the one that deserves so much criticism?

Coldplay's fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto, October 2011.

My defense for Coldplay is a result of this article by Claire Suddath from Time Magazine, “Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto: Do I hate Coldplay or Just Think I Do?” First she starts off by saying she didn’t like one of Coldplay’s first hits, “Yellow,” because it was “too sweet, too comforting.” Then a few paragraphs later her first complaint: “Chris Martin appears to have written every lyric while weeping hysterically.” Apparently weeping hysterically while writing lyrics creates something that is also sweet and comforting.

Yes, their single is called “Every Teardrop is A Waterfall,” but that’s a broad generalization for the rest of the album. She also mentions listening to the album in “Coldplay-friendly situations,” which is apparently wherever anyone wants to be a loner. I’m a pretty positive person, and I consider Coldplay to have a good mix of upbeat melodies and slower serious songs. I don’t listen to it because I want to feel lonely and emo–I listen to it when I want to feel inspired.

Another complaint from the review: Their songs are designed to be sung in unison by thousands of people holding lighters. Who doesn’t love a good lighter-waving concert? First people complain about Coldplay being too depressing and “weepy,” but last time I checked “lighter-waving” (or phone-holding) concerts were pretty uplifting and entertaining. That’s fine if you don’t always want serious music, but one band can’t and shouldn’t try to be everything. I appreciate the fact that I can always count on Coldplay to have a sense of continuity in their music throughout all their albums, while bringing something a little different each time.

What’s wrong with people today? When did inspiring poetry about the human condition become not good enough? Maybe we should spend less time tearing down musicians who are dedicated to their art, and spend more time criticizing the ones who glorify money, sex, and cough syrup.

Viva La Vida album cover, December 2010.

My top 10 Coldplay songs:

1. “Fix You”- X &Y

2. “Green Eyes”- A Rush of Blood to the Head

3. “Lost?” – Viva La Vida, bonus track

4. “Paradise” – Mylo Xyloto

5. “Us Against the World” – Mylo Xyloto

6. “Life in Technicolor ii” – Viva La Vida (Prospekt’s March)

7. “The Scientist” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

8. “Strawberry Swing” – Viva La Vida

9. “Daylight” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

10. “Warning Sign” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

Fix You

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Green Eyes

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand

That green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could, anybody, deny you

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter, now I’ve met you
And honey you should know, that I could never go on without you

Green eyes

Honey you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know

That green eyes, you’re the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who, tried to deny you must be out of their mind

The Bon Rouge Lounge & Bistro

For our honeymoon, Drew and I went to Victoria, B.C. It was amazing weather and I had never been to Canada before. On our last night we went to this French restaurant across the street from our hotel called the Bon Rouge Lounge. Of course Drew was slightly afraid of the cuisine this French restaurant might offer, but I was drawn to the restaurant because it had the most beautiful flowers and patio gardening I had ever seen. Even though it was the beginning of September, all the flowers still looked magnificent.

We sat inside because it was a bit chilly, but we were still next to the window for me to admire the foliage and the sunset from indoors. The waitress told us the gardener comes four times a week to keep it up. Luck was already on our side as we discovered that it was “Wine Wednesday” and any glass of wine on the menu was $5. In an attempt to enjoy the local fare we got the Sandhill BC Merlot, and it was divine. But the best part was our starter, the charcuterie plate with proscuitto, soppresatta, chorizo, cheese, pickles, and mustard. The mustard was actually mustard seeds–they were delicious! And I usually don’t like mustard.

The charcuterie plate was my favorite part about this restaurant because it brings me back to the trip to Europe with my dad in 2007, and I loved all the sliced meats and cheeses that seemed to be a regular part of meals at Italian restaurants. My appreciation for wine, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as developed at that point. All in all, the Bon Rouge Lounge was a relaxing break from the endless sea of British pubs that line the streets of Victoria. The modern French interior combined with the romantic floral setting on the patio set this restaurant apart and made us wish there was one like it back in Portland.

(Note, these were taken on my iPhone so they may not do this place justice!)

Inside of the restaurant

The charcuterie plate

Garden and patio view from inside

My crab salad, quite different from the usual Newport Bay crab salad!

Barley Browns Brewery

Main Street

Baker City, Oregon

The unassuming exterior of Barley Brown’s sits on Main Street in Baker City, and inside the cozy Western atmosphere is everything you could hope for in a small town brewery restaurant.

The Facts:

  • Claims to have the best American wheat beer in the world.
  • Won the gold medal in the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago, which takes place every two years and is sponsored by the Brewer’s Association.

Cliché but necessary signs featured in the restaurant:

  • “You can drink thirty or forty glasses of beer a day no matter how rich you are” – Adolphus Busch
  • “Beer: So much more than just a breakfast drink.”
  • “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” -Ben Franklin (This quote isn’t quite what most brewers think it is, see here)

Observations:

First time ordering a beer by myself (the person I was supposed to meet had to cancel last minute). A man to my left at the bar just got back from a trip where he “killed thousands of salmon” he exaggerates proudly. I wonder what that means?

The restaurant is bustling with locals and families even on a Tuesday night. Some of them must be regulars, and of course in keeping with small town style, all the waitresses know them. “See you next week,” one waitress says to a group leaving.

I don’t know anything about beer. These are just my observations. I ordered the Stumble Off pale ale and the classic spaghetti and meatballs, which was delish. I ordered the pale ale because I recognized that name, and thought that might be something my fiancé had bought before.

Huge mistake! Apparently (as I discovered after) a pale ale has the most hops (whatever that means) making it one of the most bitter tasting beers. Aka not the best one to have when you are just starting out and have no idea what you’re doing, like me.

In general, Barley Brown’s was a great place for a classic Americanized meal, and was definitely the best I had in Eastern Oregon, although you can’t go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

(spoiler alert)

Love:

How they kept Mrs. Weasley’s dialogue from the book during the battle scene

Ron’s ridiculousness

The epic moment when Neville kills Nagini

The special effects with the protection charms around the castle

Ron actually looking like he’s 40 at the end while everyone else looks the same, and it being hilarious

How they managed to fit in Snape’s memories and history in a reasonable amount of time

Snape in general/Alan Rickman

How good Ron & Hermione’s kiss was

Hate:

How awkward Harry & Ginny’s kiss was–it never gets better

That awkward moment when Voldemort hugs Draco Malfoy

How they cut out the part where Voldemort brags and celebrates more about killing Harry/When Harry doesn’t feel the cruciatus curse

The fact that they didn’t include the explanation about Dumbledore’s past (aka why he had all three deathly hallows items, or how Ariana Dumbledore died) I know it’s not realistic to include every story or plot line from the book in the movie, but there are plenty unnecessary added scenes and slow-moving sections between parts 1 & 2 that we could do without.

Most hated: how understated it was when Harry killed Voldemort.

In the book, everyone in the castle watches, the tension builds as Harry explains about the Elder Wand, then he finally kills Voldemort with it, and we see his body fall to the ground looking satisfyingly weak and feeble. Instead, we got an abandoned outdoor entryway and Voldemort disintegrating somewhat honorably into ash, and not nearly as much celebration afterward.

 

Added notes after seeing it a second time:

What was up with McGonagall sending the Slytherins to the dungeon??

More annoyed at the lack of recognition that Harry just killed Voldemort. It’s like he turns to ash, nobody sees it happen except Harry, then suddenly everyone is just in the Great Hall cleaning up and chatting away.

The attempt to add humor with Professor McGonagall saying “boom” was kind of awkward. I know they were trying to make it funny because she’s normally so serious, but she seems out of her element the entire movie anyway so it doesn’t feel as surprising to hear her say those things.

The Walking Dead

My fiance and his roommates like to watch a show called The Walking Dead, a new tv show on AMC based on a comic book series. It’s basically about people trying to flee flesh-eating zombies in a post-apocalyptic world–something I would avoid watching at all costs. Despite the show’s ridiculous zombie precedent (real original), it does somewhat remind me of one of my favorite shows of all time–Lost. It attempts to explore human nature and the problems we all encounter even in a post-apocalyptic world. Although the show does touch on some analysis of human emotion and the basic elements of human life, the contrast between the utterly unrealistic nature of limping zombies and the attempt to analyze human survival is too much to take the show seriously.

The Walking Dead does not explain how these people become zombies or the nature of their threat, like how they manage to kill everyone while stumbling around at less than 5 mph. The show lacks a thorough story line to back up the real threat of these zombies. The gore of zombie attacks continue to be a large part of the show–distracting from the exploration of fundamental human emotions and needs in an apocalyptic world.  The show needs a little less time on gore makeup and some more on writing and acting.