Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Crying List

Some of us are criers. Some of us can’t look at firework spectaculars or watch old people dance without getting choked up. You know what I mean.  Like how when you were in middle school and you would invite all your friends over to watch Steel Magnolias and then you would compete to see who could cry the hardest? No? Just me-ok. The Greeks had a word for this vicarious getting out of your ya-yas: catharsis. The side benefits of this emotional outpouring are numerous. For example, to this very day, I can recite (verbatim) Sally Field’s cemetery monologue, complete with hand gestures and accent. But, more than that, catharsis allows the audience to express, embrace, and release emotion.

Now, where does Christmas come in? Well, this year I have been struggling to find the holiday spirit and this is pretty unusual for me. In fact, lately I’ve been more than a little Scrooge-esque.  So, I am going on a self-imposed crash diet of Christmas catharsis. I am going to re-watch every holiday film that has ever made me cry. If you are likewise struggling to get in the spirit of the season, I strongly recommend the following "So it's the Holidays and I Need to Cry” List.

Sob Inducing Scene #1
Directed by George Seton
Santa Claus (as played by the superb Edmund Gwynn) shows the true magic of Christmas when he is able to communicate with a Dutch orphan. The look on the little girl’s face and then her adoptive mother’s face...Let’s simplify this equation: 
Holocaust survivor + Santa Clause = How am I even typing this I’m crying so hard

Sob Inducing Scene #2
Directed by Henry Koster
Cary Grant plays an angel, sent from heaven, to help a bishop (David Niven) realize that instead of building a big, ol’ honking cathedral, he should just focus on the people in his life. Loretta Young plays the, you guessed it, bishop’s wife.  In this scene, angel and wife visit the bishop’s old parish to watch a performance by a group of intercity choir boys. I love how Cary-angel knows everyone’s names, directs musical traffic, and is so gosh darn charming. The moment where the boys rise angelically- cue the musically timed tears.

Sob Inducing Scene #3
Directed by Michael Curtiz
"What do you do with a general, when he stops being a general?" I love this movie. I have loved White Christmas forever. I love the singing, the dancing, the costumes, Bing Crosby's ears, and Danny Kaye's infectious giggle, but most of all I love Dean Jagger's portrayal of General Waverly. Without him, this movie just wouldn't work. He is the heart of the film. Make sure to also watch the ending scene which parallels this one. You will cry.

Sob Inducing Scene #4
Directed by Brian Henson
It's no secret that I love everything having to do with the Muppets and Michael Caine (aka the best Ebenezer Scrooge ever). But, this next film is more than just muppetry or men with British accents. Jim Henson (the creator of the Muppets) died shortly before the movie was made and many believed, at the time, that his death also marked the end of the Muppets. Muppet Christmas Carol isn't just a beautiful tribute to Jim Henson, it is also proof that what he created would carry on. His son Brian actually directed this film and I can't help but feel that it truly is a love letter to his father.

Sob Inducing Scene #5
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Meet Me in St. Louis is not only one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, it is also one of the greatest movies ever made- period! In this scene, Esther Smith (Judy Garland) is explaining to her younger sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) that although they have to move they will still be together. Recognize the song? This film also debuted the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Originally, the lyrics were so depressing that Garland refused to sing them to sweet little Margaret O'Brien. Words were changed and now here we have one of the sweetest scenes ever captured on film.

Sob Inducing Scene #6
Directed by Frank Capra 
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that they hate a movie that they've never really seen. There are so many people who make fun of this film for being corny, sappy, and yes even schmaltzy. But, this film is nothing short of miraculous in my eyes. It was not a big hit upon its initial release. People went into theaters expecting slapstick and what they got was a man contemplating suicide. This movie is funny and sad, silly and serious, because guess what- that's what life is actually like. The final scene where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) decides he wants to live and then that bell rings...all I can say is happy Catharsis Christmas everyone!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being a person...



        And then one day you’ll decide to be a person...
Not a model
Not a face
Not a quote
Not a catchphrase
Not a relationship
Not a shoe size
Not a measurement
Not a GPA
Not a haircut
Not a status update
Not a picture
Not a dream job
Not a house
Not a formula
Not an everyone
       And that is a good day-

Monday, November 21, 2011

Smorgasbord Monday

Hey, pals. It is unbelievable to me that it's pretty much Thanksgiving. Insane. Here are some internet morsels to complete your Turkey Day feast. 


I don't know about you, but I totally plan to see the The Muppets this weekend. My adoration for Kermit knows no bounds.


via pinterest
So, as you might already know, I have long been obsessed with this video called Marcel The Shell with Shoes On. Of everyone I've ever known, only one person has disliked it. That man was Hitler. Just kidding, but this Marcel-hater-man is a jerk with a mustache fetish. Well, the creators Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp recently released a new book and another Marcel video "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On." Watch this and your days will be filled with sunshine and sea shells. My forever quote will be, "Guess why I smile a lot? Cuz it's worth it."
Hyperbole and a Half is the funniest blog in the world (this is not a hyperbole). Allie's cartoons and point-of-view are just the thing for any sort of occasion, whether it be quirky, delightful, or even mischievous (as so many occasions are). My favorite story has to be "How a Fish Almost Destroyed my Childhood." Take a gander.


via Hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com




I've been doing a lot of driving lately and this one song (Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness) has seen me through quite a few stoplights and traffic jams. Whenever I'm belting it out at top volume, while driving down the highway of life, I can't help but think of this scene from Pretty in Pink. There is no doubt in my mind that John Hughes was a genius and I am team Duckie all the way!
I hope you all have a week full of friends, family, and copious amounts of turkey. Myself, I am thankful for the incredible people in my life, and the Marcel the Shells, the Fish Friends, the Duckies, the Muppets, and the ever present possibility of breaking into song.







Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Ashland Addiction, Part I

On the road to Ashland...

In the past few months, frice have I been to Ashland, Oregon. 

Frice = Four times. 

I know. I really lucked out what with my skill for making up silly words and my love for travel. So, the next few posts you will see from me will be Ashland centered because I really love this place and it gives me the chance to use the word frice more than frice times. Oh, also, I did not go alone (because that would be sad). I got to go to Ashland with my wonderful friends the Callaghan/Rhoads family (trip #2). Plus, I got to go to Ashland with my equally delightful friends Jackie of Bread Butter & Jam(trip #1, 4) and Matt(trip #4).

Why you should love Ashland, Oregon:

It is beautiful, like fairyland beautiful, all year round. When you get to Ashland, which you will, take a hike through Lithia Park. You can't miss it, just follow the creek into the crotch of the hillside (my mother's description, not mine). The park was designed by the same man who designed Golden Gate Park. Lithia is not so much a park as a magical meeting place for trees and deer.

It is a cultural mecca. Each year, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers 8 and-a-half months of some of the best theatre you will ever see. There are three theaters total (including a huge outdoor Elizabethan stage). I got to see several shows that were amazing (and yes, one or two that I wasn't so pleased with...turns out, dream sequences really freak me out). But, honestly, at OSF, you will laugh, you will cry, you will leave a better person. GO.
It's a breakfast town. You know what I mean. Have you ever been to a place and thought to yourself, "It's nice, but where could a girl get her pancake on around here?" I totally judge towns based on their breakfast/brunch possibilities. Ashland has tons of great places to break your fast: Morning Glory's, The Breadboard, Brothers. They are all scrumptious.
A Bear Totally Ate This Pancake @ Morning Glory's
I tried to convince my sister Hayley that we should do one shot where we were staring with adoration at each other, but she said that would be creepy...typical

Morning Conversation: My mom had just told Jackie how as a child (my mother) had a friend who was allergic to green beens and so for entertainment, they used to pay this girl to eat green beans and then they would watch her face sweat.

Shopping. You know I love it and there are so many delightful shops in this town. The total winner though: Prize. Every time I take a friend up to Ashland, I tell them, "There is a shop. It is a place where you will forever be happy and you will fantasize about being locked here over night. In that night, you will eat candy, read wonderful books, and sleep on the softest of blankets. This place is called Prize and it is a gift from the shopping gods. Go there, my friend. Find your prize."

The Interior of the Magical Place known as "Prize"
Did I mention they sell vintage flashcards? Cuz they do.
They also have "the best gummi bears" and Prize don't lie!
There are other nice shops too. For example:


Yes, I bought this dress because I love it and it makes me feel like a beautiful fruit salad. So there!
I did not buy this scarf, although it did remind me of the final scene in Auntie Mame...
How cute is Jackie during her shopping break? She's just a photo shoot waiting to happen!
There are so many fun activities. Time to segway (ahem) to activities in the surrounding areas. For example, you can go to the little town of Jacksonville and ride...wait for it...segways. How do I put this? It was the most fun ever. Segways will totally fulfill your lifelong hopes of riding on a broomstick (hey, some of us saw Hocus Pocus at a critical age). Oh, and you get to wear some very chic helmets. Thanks Segway of Jacksonville. We had a whirly-gig of a good time!
Dad & I with our matching helmets

Time to train in the art of segway. Loving the quiet determination on the faces of John, Dad, and Matt. 
Adorable Rhoads couple (Matt + Claire) all ready to get on the road! Make sure to check out openrhoads.com :)







Monday, November 14, 2011

Smorgasbord Monday

Hello, peoples of the world. Let's get to this thing called Monday.


In modern life, there are so many wonderful different types of wrecks: ship, car, emotional, etc. But, my favorite kind of wreck would have to be of the baking variety. I just discovered cakewrecks.com and I spend my days giggling at inappropriate pastries. Here is one of my favorites:
via cakewrecks.com
I consider it my lifelong curse that I was not born British or taller. Liam Neeson is both and Liam Neeson has also long been seen as an underrated comedic genius and list maker. At least, that's the way Liam Neeson sees it. Check out this scene from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchants' new BBC mocumentary: Life's Too Short
You know how everything comes back to Disney? Well, whoever worked on this next video is a genius. Now, I do not like the film Sin City. Quite frankly, I think it's a misogynistic ball of crap indicative of a machismo culture that characterizes its women as prostitutes deserving of mistreatment and disdain. But, if you like it, that's totally cool. No judgement... Stepping off my soapbox, this video is impressive. I like it. A lot.
Have a great week everyone and may it be filled with disastrous cakes, Liam Neeson, and dangerous mice.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Ridiculous Nook Meltdown



I haven’t written in a while. My excuses are numerous, but my main raison d’(not) etre is that times have been genuinely cruddy. The high point of my weekend was eating an entire pumpkin and then performing an autobiographical-cabaret-number on my sister’s message machine. She was at a party with friends and I was in my flannel pjs singing lyrics like, “Hey there, little sister. I don’t want to get a blister from all the times I’ve called you and you haven’t called me back. I kind of miss yer, little sister. Did you watch tv today? Cause I did.” Oh, to be young and to be alive. Someday, I’ll write down my pitiful grievances, but not today, mostly because they would make me seem highly petty and incredibly stupid. Basically, the last few weeks have been a blur, and not the good kind.
We’ll jump to today. My dad (who really is a wonderful dad) recently gave me his nook. Turns out, he prefers real books and he is also the most generous of men. I have to say this because it’s true and also because I’m not going to look so hot in a few seconds.
I had been reading some blogs about autoimmune disorders (it was that kind of weekend) and I discovered these self-help books targeted towards unhappy people with thyroid disorders. I was reading up on Amazon about how these books had changed the lives of dozens of sluggish people and I just thought to myself, “I MUST read these books. I must read them now. I know...NOOK!”
I grabbed my old Barnes & Noble gift certificates from two Christmases ago. Now, was the time. This was my moment.
I went on to B & N, created an account, and bought the books faster than you can say “impulse purchase.” Then, I tried to transfer the books to the Nook and they wouldn’t go. They would NOT go. I started to panic, just a little.
Me: Dad, I bought these important books and now I can’t load them on the Nook. They won’t take. They won’t hold. They won’t latch on. They’re not thriving. They like won’t imprint or echo or pass through to the other side. So,I guess what I’m asking is should I just press the nook up to the computer screen? Or do I use a cord? Or a USB? Or do they just wirelessly register across the room into the nook? Like they naturally migrate...like swallows. Should I open a window or a door? Or do I need to create another account to load from my account to your account? Should I turn everything off? Or should I turn everything on? Should I turn it off and then on really fast? Or should I push both the on and the off buttons at the same time? Or, should I move it in a figure 8 motion? Should I give it space or time? Because I could take a walk and check back in. Should I blow the entry port for dust? Because I already did that. Twice.
Dad: I don’t know. I just always buy the books on the nook.
Me: I didn’t know that was an option.
Dad: Yup. I have no idea what you should do now.
Me: Well...I HAD A GIFT CERTIFICATE!!! (pause) I FAIL AT LIFE!!! 

(Maren runs down hallway sobbing and clutching the Nook)
5 hours later...after searching Google with key terms like:
-Trouble downloading ebook from B & N site to Nook
-Trouble transferring ebook purchase to Nook
-Trouble downloading stupid ebook to the   stupid Nook
-The many ways Nooks suck and how to fix them
-Oprah is a know-it-all
-I hate the Nook...help!
-I hate the Nook...and I hate my life...help?
-I hate
I finally figured it out and it was really stupid and I had to hop through more hoops than a cat in a cat circus. In nook-speak, my file had the wrong name. So,I re-named it: “ihatenook.epub.”  Yes, I had a complete break down over the fact that I wasn’t able to download digital books about stress management and read them off a magic tablet.  But, I was finally able to download the books ironically entitled You Can Heal Your Life and You Can Create an Exceptional Life. I think I already have. I am a wackadoo. That is life and it’ll get better and it’s already pretty good.
I started reading the introduction to one of the books and it’s talking about how our minds create drama and conflict and I’m thinking, “Mmmmm...I don’t know anyone like that...”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smorgasbord Monday

Good Monday to you all! I cannot wait to share some of the internet gems I stumbled upon over the last week. Let's begin!

(via ritzybee)
I love both the style and the sentiment of this work of art created by artist Becky Murphy. She even does custom wood designs...mmmm...now I know what I'm getting everyone for Christmas. Somebody grab me my saw!
(via google images)
Julia Child was and is the embodiment of sheer fearless joy. In many ways she reminds me of my Grandma Glenna (a ballsy dame if ever there was one). I recently re-watched Julie & Julia. I wasn't crazy about it when I saw it at the theatre, but once at home, I just fast forwarded through all the modern bits and focused on vintage Julia. Voila! It was the best movie ever. So when I saw this post, "10 Career Lessons by Julia Child," I knew I had to share it with you. Bon appetit!


Last, but absolutely not-least, we have "Lily's Disneyland Surprise." This little lady is turning 6 and she's about to find out that she's going to Disneyland. I love everything about this video, but my favorite part has to be when she gets so excited that she forgets when her birthday is. Seriously, Disney should use this as an ad. WATCH and DELIGHT:


I think we could all take a lesson from Lily and get crying-excited once in a while. So, here's to a Monday filled with childish-chef-tree-wisdom and maybe a few happy tears.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Write a "To Do" List


I do not pretend to be the world’s greatest list-maker, but I do claim to be on the short-list of the world’s greatest list-makers. I come from a long line of list makers. I make “To Do” lists and “To Don’t” lists. Since I was a little girl I have made lists. 
This would be a prototypical list from a six-year old me:


  1. Wake up
  2. Grow new teeth
  3. Don't brush the teeth I've got (they're going to fall out anyways)
  4. Travel Extensively
  5. Learn how to read
As I got older, I wrote more lists.
This would be a prototypical list from a sixteen-year old me:
  1. Wake up
  2. Grow boobs
  3. Climb a mountain
  4. Become a more authentic human being who has boobs and can climb a mountain
  5. Make a mixed cd with the theme “mountains”
You get the picture. Yes, I usually start my lists with “wake up,” because I figure that everyday this is one goal (barring any unforeseen comas) that I can achieve. So, the other day, when I was sitting at McDonald’s enjoying my daily ice cream cone-meditation-time, I wrote a list. I think that it might very well be my favorite list of all time (right next to the Bill of Rights).
Here it goes...

(This was not written on March 7-13...I just like to relive the past by recycling)

TO DO

WRITE
PERFORM
BE A PERSON
DON'T BUY IN or SELL OUT
DRINK MORE WATER
GET A TRAMPOLINE

I write lists because I love the idea that my days can be filled with possibility. We are our lists. We are our goals. Don’t get me wrong. Lists can also be for chores, grocery trips, and the day-to-day mechanics of life. But, we can and should insert ourselves between the items. “Pick up the dry cleaning,” and “Pay bills,” but don’t forget to add in a little space for “Dance,” or “Perfect your imitation of Daniel Day Lewis.” Our lists, like our lives, should be filled with the ordinary wonderfulness of losing teeth, growing boobs, and waking up.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Smorgasbord Monday

Poor Monday, always a source of new week-itis. Let's change all that. Shall we?


via google images

"Climb up, gerranium!" There are some things that you just can't un-see. Once they get in, they get in. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever is one of those things. It may be one of the most influential films of my childhood and perhaps my favorite musical about reincarnation (because there are so many:) The movie was made in 1970 and was very very loosely based on the stage musical of the same name. Lyrics are by Alan Jay Lerner (of My Fair Lady fame). Yes, it was directed by the genius Vincente Minelli. Yes, it stars Barbra Streisand as a flower serenading psychic. Yes, you should fast forward through any scene with Yves Montand. That French man poodle. 


Anyhoo, this opening number just sets the perfect creepy-1960s-joyful-exuberance needed to welcome any Monday. Warning these images will stick with you and as an adult you may find yourself skipping through random gardens and singing "R.S.V.P. Peonies..."

"Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here"

From flower-singing to webcam working. Esther and Bruce Huffman are senior citizens living at the Hillside Retirement Community in McMinnville, Oregon. They are also instant viral video sensations. I LOVE this couple. Watch it. They honestly have no idea the camera is on.


Apparently, texting can be humorous. It can be especially humorous when you get your parents involved. Check out parentsshouldnttext.com I spent an hour on this site yesterday and couldn't stop laughing. On a side note: my mom has never texted me. But I did once receive a text pic from dad of a giant crow...


Have a great Monday, everyone. May it be filled with texting-web-cam-flowerpot-grandparents!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

THE BIGGEST FRICKIN' SPIDER EVER


This spider is the size of a rotisserie chicken: that was my first thought. 




Back it up. I was walking down the hallway to my bedroom, when I made the mistake of looking up. A SPIDER stared back at me. But, this was no typical spider. This was a SPIDER so big that I think it might have had an undiagnosed thyroid condition. This was a SPIDER so big that it could have moonlighted as an ottoman. This was a SPIDER so big that I'm pretty sure it had grown up eating steak and babies.

I have no choice but to kill you: that was my second thought.

I want to go on record. I'm not normally bothered by bugs. With the exception of having seen the trailer for Arachnaphobia at a sensitive age, bugs have never been a phobia of mine. Eels, yes. Spiders, no. Also, I'm opposed to the death penalty and generally this does extend to insects. But, there was just something about this SPIDER. It was huge and it knew where I slept. It couldn't be allowed to live. But, how should I proceed?

I couldn't just smash it. It would leave a mark the size of Lake Michigan on the ceiling. Yes, I would have to use a tool of some sort. A magazine, a magazine would be perfect for sweeping it off the ceiling. Then, then I would have to crush it. It was the only way. But, what to crush it with? 

I searched through my piles of reading material. I didn't want to use a book I liked. I couldn't use a book that had some function or utility. So, I settled on the most entirely worthless book in my personal library- The Pocket Monologue Book For Women. This book consists of monologues written for the discerning actress who dreams of reciting speeches about scrunchies, menstrual cycles, and men who won't commit.

Scene of the Crime

I grabbed my Pottery Barn catalogue in one hand and the monologue book in the other. I jumped up and with a flicking gesture reminiscent of a tennis serve shot the SPIDER across the hall. I swear the thing caught air. It sailed like a furry frisby and landed with a thud. It turned and glared at me. Then, we danced. Oh, yes. We danced. Lunge to the left. Lunge to the right. "You shall not pass!" I cried as I plopped the pocket guide down on insect opponent. With a primal scream, I stepped on the pocket book. The sound that emanated was that of a giant chewing chicken bones. Then came the silence.



I gave SPIDER a burial at sea and flushed it down the toilet. For a moment, I felt calm. Then I remembered the lyrics from the well-known-arachnid-ditty:

The its bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout

Now, the thing not only knows where I sleep, but also where I do other things as well…I sit and I wait. Till we meet again, old friend. Till we meet again.