Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top 5, Bottom 5: Romantic Comedies

I have seen 209 romantic comedies... and chances are, I disliked most of them. I am not a rom com kind of girl. I think "cute" is not necessarily a positive verb, I don't identify with domestic girly girls OR hardened independent career women, and I think it's idiotic to watch a couple gets together after knowing each other for a total of two weeks and lying to each other about who they are for all but one day of those two weeks. (I am looking at YOU, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days.)

So, yeah. Not my favorite. However... 2 of my top 5 movies are classified as romantic comedies. So when I finally find one I like, it really works for me. I figured I'd share my 5 favorite truly great romantic comedies and the 5 that most make me want to tear my hair out.

Out of 1663 movies on my Flickchart so far...

Top 5:
1. Love Actually (2003, #2 on my Flickchart). This ensemble rom com has, unfortunately, led us to things like Valentine's Day and He's Just Not That Into You, but I genuinely like every story in this movie. Richard Curtis is a funny writer who writes entertaining scenarios.
2. Annie Hall (1977, #4). My favorite Woody Allen flick - a perfect combination of cynical and sentimental, with a much more uplifting ending message than most rom coms try to send.
3. When Harry Met Sally... (1989, #13). It's been awhile since the last time I watched this, so this is a bit too high on the list, but this is the best old-friends-turned-more movie I've seen. Easily Nora Ephron's best.
4. Company: A Musical Comedy (2007, #17). That's kind of a misleading tag. It's not at all a romantic comedy in the traditional sense. It's a comedy/drama about marriage, yes, but it's not like it even hints that he ends up with anyone at the end, much less anyone we've seen in the show so far. And I don't like it in the way I like a rom com, at all. I like it because it's deep and kind of sad. So I might not count this and try another #4.
4b. Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010, #21). OK, that's not quite a rom com either, but, oddly enough, it feels closer than Company. The extremely nerdy, extremely funny, extremely wonderful story of a guy who literally has to fight for the girl he loves.
5. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001, #28). Like I said, Richard Curtis knows how to write his rom coms. I love the story of someone who really isn't a perfect girl who has low self-esteem for no reason the rest of us regular people can see. She's got some pretty real life issues. It's the same reason I love Liz Lemon. I love seeing the stories of people who are as genuinely awkward as I am.

Bottom 5:
1. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004, #1645). Take an already-mediocre movie, add a sequel that has little to nothing to do with the original, throw in as many obnoxious characters as possible and remove the personality of the good ones... and ta-da!
2. License to Wed (2007, #1644). I watched this movie because of my love for John Krasinski, but he couldn't even come close to saving this. What a terrible message. What a terrible gimmick. What terrible jokes. What terrible interactions the engaged couple have.
3. Maid in Manhattan (2002, #1643). ...Did I rank these all together? Or are three in a row just rom coms? Both are quite possible. I sure have a bunch in the bottom 100. Anyway, I can't remember a thing about this movie except wonder how a movie possibly managed to make Ralph Fiennes boring.
4. 50 First Dates (2004, #1629). This movie has a terrifying ending, not a happy one. And Adam Sandler is least romantic male lead possible. His characters always strike me as disgusting rather than sweet.
5. Mr. Deeds (2002, #1590). I did like this less than 50 First Dates, but not by much. Everything I said about Adam Sandler still holds true. And I am so tired of the "falls in love while assuming a secret identity" trope. A romance built entirely on lies doesn't turn into a cute happy ending. It just doesn't.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blind Spots 2012

Movie blogger Jandy has announced over on her site (Jandy's Meanderings) that she is going to do the "Blind Spots 2012" movie challenge, started by James McNally at Toronto Screenshots. It focuses on "blind spot" movies - the movies you're supposed to have seen as a movie buff. Whether they're classic cinema, blockbusters everyone has seen, or movies from my childhood I somehow missed, the idea is that I choose 12 of them for this challenge and try to watch them all over 2012. It works out to one a month, but I'm student teaching this semester and am pretty sure my movie watching is going to completely disappear as the semester gets going, so probably most of my movie watching will happen over the summer.

I had a difficult time thinking of movies I wanted to see off the top of my head, so I decided to choose 4 from each of the following places:
-The all-time highest-ranked movies on Flickchart.
-My massive Netflix DVD queue.
-Movies from the Film-Lover's Checklist (similar to iCheckMovies, but I discovered this site first and use it more often anyway).

So, that being said, my 12 blind spot movies I'm going to aim for in 2012 are, in no particular order:

Office Space (1999)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Carrie (1976)
Rushmore (1998)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Nosferatu (1929)

If any of you have any opinions on which one of these I should watch first, feel free to offer them up... I'm probably not getting to any of them for a little while. I'll be posting my responses to these movies when I watch them on here as well as over at my regular mini-review blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Most Notable Glee Moments (...in the first half of season 3)

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I am a major gleek. (As a musical theater nerd, I'm almost obligated to love the show.) So I thought since I'd been light on blog posts this week, I'd write up something on the first half of season 3. It feels silly to dissect a show mid-season, but then I remember that the first half of season 3 used 51 songs (or at least that's how many I have in my video folder for season 3). Which is a lot. So here were some of the highlights.

(Links to video of the performance whenever I could find it, but those generally get taken down pretty quickly, so if you want to watch, WATCH FAST.)

Best Kurt/Rachel Duet: "Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead"
Kurt and Rachel have sung together on past seasons and always blend surprisingly well, but the two of them have never sounded better together than in this song from the season premiere. They look and sound like they're having so much fun. It's a lovely change from Lea Michele's usual tortured soul songs.

Most Surprising Song Choice: "It's All Over"
Yeah, "Listen" and "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls have made appearances on Glee before, but I *loved* the use of this extremely theatrical song from the show, complete with costumes fitting the original musical. It's musical dialogue, much like you'd hear in a rock opera, rather than a solo song. It made Glee feel refreshingly like a musical rather than a drama with music videos thrown in.

Weirdest Audition Choice: (tie) "I'm the Greatest Star" and "Out Here On My Own"
I love how the Glee kids auditioning for West Side Story seem to have no idea what the show is or how to choose an appropriate song for it. Kurt auditions for lovestruck ex-gang member Tony with a flashy, flamboyant Barbra Streisand song about being a Broadway sensation. Yeah, because that'll convince them you're right for that part. Weirder still, the directors choose "Out Here On My Own" from Fame as a callback song for potential Marias. It's a belty song about feeling like a sad, alone outcast but powering through on your own strength... a vocal style and a theme that makes very little sense for Maria, a lyric soprano who sings about how pretty she is and seems to not feel like an outcast at all. Kurt, Mercedes, and Rachel all sing their songs beautifully, but they make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE as audition songs for this show.

Most Moving Musical Moment (alliteration ftw): "Fix You"
I'm not going to lie - I cried during this one. Emma has just had an evening with her parents that has dredged up ALL her insecurities about who she is and the fact that she's not quite normal. She kneels to pray for God to fix something, anything, and Will, not knowing quite what to do, kneels and prays with her... and sings this song. It's heartbreaking and beautifully done.

Most Fun Group Number: "Last Friday Night"
I love when everyone gets up and just spontaneously dances around in the glee room. And no recent pop song is as suited to spontaneous dancing as this contagious Katy Perry hit.
(Honorable mention goes to "ABC," which only loses because "Last Friday Night" showcases Darren Criss' amazing ability to throw himself completely into his songs and look like he's having the time of his life.)

Lyrically, these songs make no sense together, but musically, they fit fantastically, and the glee kids go all out, making this the most fun mashup they've done on the show since "Umbrella/Singin' in the Rain."
(Honorable mention goes to "I Will Survive/Survivor," which ALMOST won this category. I debated making it another tie, but the Hall & Oates songs were just so much fun.)

Best Puck Serenade: "I'm the Only One"
Puck ALWAYS falls in love with a girl in glee and tries to win her over by dedicating a song to her. And it works. (Well, except for "Fat Bottomed Girls.") Here, he secretly serenades Shelby while pretending he's singing it for Santana. This is one of my favorite performances he's ever done. They seriously need to give him some more songs.

Best Christmas Song: "Let It Snow"
First of all, Blaine and Kurt have always sounded AMAZING together. But this was a fantastic number for other reasons. Before the show turns into a silly but cheesy parody of old-timey Christmas specials, this opening number is a much classier throwback to those specials. The two boys have a sincere theatricality that make them absolutely perfect for this number. Even a month after Christmas, watching this clip still puts me in the holiday spirit.

Friday, January 20, 2012

December Movies

You know what I never did? Talked about the movies I saw in December. Fail. So here we go. I saw eleven of them.

Scarface (1983). The movie tells the story of Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) and his rise to power as a drug lord. It wasn't all that interesting to me - cheesy and melodramatic. 2.5/5.

Beautiful Boy (2010). Michael Sheen and Maria Bello play the parents of a college boy who goes on a shooting spree at his school. I loved this one - it broke me a little. I particularly loved the two main actors, who gave wonderful performances. 4.5/5.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009). A movie based on G.I. Joe characters. This would probably have been more interesting if I had been... well, interested at all in G.I. Joe. As it was, it was silly with awkward characters, an awkward plot, and terrible dialogue. 1/5.

Blazing Saddles (1974). This movie clearly didn't stick with me, because I couldn't remember the plot. To quote IMDb: "To ruin a western town, a corrupt political boss appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary." Not one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies, but not one of the ones I hate either. It just kind of sits in the middle. 3/5.

Homicide (1991). Joe Mantegna plays a homicide detective on a case he doesn't really want to be working on. Written by David Mamet. I kept almost liking this movie, but then the ending was very abrupt and everything kind of fell apart. 2.5/5.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) After his wife leaves him, Steve Carell asks ladies' man Ryan Gosling to help him get back into the game. A charming, funny, and surprisingly touching romantic comedy. One of the better ones I've seen in awhile. 3.5/5.

The Slipper and the Rose (1976). A Sherman brothers musical retelling of Cinderella. Some very entertaining song and dance numbers, but, as in most adaptations of the story, Cinderella herself is just too boring a character to root for. 3/5.

Beginners (2011). A story about a young man (Ewan McGregor) trying to put his life together, inspired by his father (Christopher Plummer), who came out of the closet after his wife's death. A creative, interesting, and very moving story. It all fits together very nicely, weaving in and out of the different stories. 4/5.

Winnie the Pooh (2011). Disney's new set of stories about Winnie the Pooh and his friends, all taken from the original A. A. Milne stories. It's charming and delightful, although clearly meant for children, so it's nostalgia that makes it as good as it is for viewers like me. Nicely done. 3.5/5.

Withnail & I (1987). The road trip adventures of two unemployed actor roommates. I really should have liked this movie, and it's supposed to be a classic, but I hardly laughed at all and overall found it very uninteresting. Extremely disappointing. 2/5.

They Were Expendable (1945). From IMDb: "A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II." This movie was so uninteresting to me that I struggled to remember what was going on in the middle of the movie. It's frustrating having to work so hard to stay even a little bit interested. 1/5.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Well, That Show Was Terrible

The show was somehow even worse than the title of this blog. Man, I hate writing blog titles.

Anyway. Last week there was this sitcom called Work It. And this week there isn't. And that's pretty cool, because it was 1) not funny and 2) offensive.

This article says that ABC's entertainment chief is very confused by the fact that people were offended by it, specifically responding to comments from transgender people. He compares it to Tootsie and says that's not offensive, so this shouldn't have been either.

I am not transgender, so I'm not a position to say whether the show was offensive to transgender people or not. (Although I can't imagine how it wouldn't be.) But I can tell you that it was unbelievably offensive to me as a woman.

Here's the deal: it takes a lot to offend me. A lot. As a woman, as a Christian, as an introvert, as a homeschooler... I see people poke fun at these things a lot and tend to just shrug and let it go. But I watched the pilot of this show and couldn't even finish it because it was making me so angry. It's not the fact that someone's dressing as a girl that made me furious. It's the jokes they chose to make from it.

Like, for example, he makes a terrible woman because he doesn't have a pretty purse that goes with his outfit! HA HA HA HA HA! Imagine, a girl not matching her purse to her outfit!
And he eats subs for lunch instead of salad!
And he knows how cars work!

Well, I'm not good with cars, but except for the last one, it appears I, too, make a terrible woman. A terrible one.

I don't own a purse at all, much less one that matches my outfit. If I had a choice between a foot-long sub for lunch and a salad, I'd choose the sub every time. I wear a T-shirt and jeans whenever possible because I hate dressing up or deciding what to wear. Shopping bores me, unless it's for books, movies, or music. I don't like looking at pictures of other people's babies and I definitely don't want to hold them. I find makeup is not worth the effort it takes to apply. I do not own a single bracelet, necklace, ring, or pair of earrings. I think chick flicks are stupid. The lower the heels are on my shoes, the happier I am (flats are always best). AND I think that other women who have these character traits are not odd, much less suspiciously unfeminine.

Work It only made it to a couple of the stereotypes on this list before it got canceled, but I am sure that if it continued, it would eventually have hit all of them, using them as examples for why the man in question makes a terrible woman and, therefore, explaining why I am also a terrible woman. Apparently if I went to work in that office, I would be looked at with the same amount of comical disgust the main character's co-workers had when they looked at him. Wow. That's pleasant. Any sitcom that tells me I suck at being a woman (and I don't even have the excuse of secretly being a man) is not something I ever care to watch again.

I don't know anyone who's actually argued for this show being decent in any way, shape or form, which is a good thing. I'm glad it's being universally accepted that this was a horrible show. It's not like I need to convince anybody. I'm probably preaching to the choir. But it was the first thing I've watched that's offended me in... I don't even know how long, so I figured it should get a blog post.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Turntable Playlist: These People Drive Me Crazy

My latest website obsession is Turntable.fm. I have a private room set up and sometimes my friends and I will go in there and play songs together. Most of the time we just play whatever we want, but every so often we'll play around with a theme, and I figured I'd go ahead and post a list of the songs we played - in case you are ever in need of a themed playlist tailored to the musical taste of my friends and I.

I encountered some frustrating people today and so decided in honor of that, we should play songs about being annoyed or angry with people. Individuals or in general, didn't matter.

The asterisked ones are mine. DJs jump in and out sometimes, which is why the amount of songs between my plays changes.

1. The All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell
*2. Kate Miller-Heidke - God's Gift to Women
3. Get Set Go – I Hate Everyone
4. Relient K – Mood Rings
5. Eminem – Love The Way You Lie
*6. "Weird Al" Yankovic – Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me
7. Pentatonix – Forget You \/ Since U Been Gone
8. Charlie Daniels Band – Simple Man
9. P!nk – So What
*10. Groovelily – Happy, Happy, Happy
11. Riki Lindhome – Self Esteem
12. Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized
13. Idina Menzel – No Good Deed
14. Rihanna – Take A Bow
*15. The Lonely Island – Normal Guy (Interlude)
16. Bowling For Soup – Here's Your Freakin' Song
17. Social Distortion – Ball And Chain
18. Evanescence – Call Me When You're Sober
19. Relient K – Which To Bury; Us Or The Hatchet?
*20. Bowling For Soup – A Friendly Goodbye
21. Beastie Boys – Sabotage
22. Pink – There You Go
23. Adele – Rolling In The Deep
*24. Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
25. Five Iron Frenzy – Handbook For The Sellout
26. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
27. No Doubt – Ex-Girlfriend
*28. Superchic[k] – bowling ball
29. Claude-Michel Schönberg – The Confrontation
30. Plain White T's – Hate (I Really Don't Like You)
31. Lit – My Own Worst Enemy
*32. Original Cast – I Hate the French
33. Metallica – Seek & Destroy
*34. Jemina Pearl – I Hate People

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top 5, Bottom 5: Movies of 2011

I discussed my favorite movies I saw in 2011, but realized just today this would be a good opportunity for a Top 5, Bottom 5 feature.

Top 5:
1. Midnight In Paris (#135 on my Flickchart). I've discussed this already on my top movies of 2011 post. It's delightful and charming and easily Woody Allen's best movie in YEARS.
2. The Beaver (#218). Also discussed on the top movies of 2011 post. Bizarre and quirky but also extremely touching.
3. Crazy, Stupid Love (#314). A very satisfying romantic comedy. It's going to drop on my Flickchart in the future, I'm sure, but right now I feel like keeping it way up there in the 300s.
4. Super 8 (#376). An interesting mystery with some not-annoying child acting, which is a big accomplishment as far as I'm concerned.
5. Paul (#380). A beautifully nerdy comedy that made me laugh out loud several times. I ended my mini review on my blog with the sentence, "I suspect this is how I as a girl am supposed to feel after watching romantic comedies."

Bottom 5:
1. Hop (#1519). This movie makes absolutely no sense and hardly got any laughs from the audience of children I saw it with. That doesn't bode well for a children's movie.
2. Paranormal Activity 3 (#1374). Would this movie have been more interesting if I'd seen the first two first? Maybe... but probably not.
3. 30 Minutes or Less (#942). Very, very few laughs in this movie. Should probably be lower on my chart.
4. Our Idiot Brother (#912). Honestly, I hardly remember this movie at all. Clearly a memorable viewing, huh?
5. Unknown (#911). Not a bad idea for a thriller, but the plot was ridiculous and the acting bizarre.

I didn't see as many terrible movies in 2011 as I thought I might have. Most of those bottom 5 were just... uninteresting.

(Although, really, I should do one for 2010 now, or do this one in 2012, because I don't see most of the year's movies until they're out on DVD anyway.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Thoughts on Christian Music

All right. Most people who know me already know this about me, but for those who don't and keep getting surprised when I say something about this, I wanted to write up something about my stance on this so when people ask, I have an easy place to point them to.

Here's the deal: I am a Christian, but I really dislike Christian music.

This tends to surprise (and occasionally dismay) my Christian friends, so I wanted to give a bit of an explanation here.

I used to like it. I didn't really get into music at all until middle school, and at that point wasn't allowed to listen to anything but Christian music, so I devoured all I could. I bought SO many Christian CDs, even artists I'd never heard of (but their cover art looked SO COOL) and listened to Christian radio all the time. As I got older and started listening to other stuff beyond just what the Christian music industry was making, I began realizing that a lot of the Christian stuff I liked... I didn't really like anymore. The sound wasn't as good as I remembered, the singing wasn't as good, and while the lyrics did technically state things I agreed with, almost none of them touched me emotionally.

I don't remember a specific point where I stopped liking Christian music. No big epiphany or anything. It just kind of came on gradually. I kept buying the WoW compilation albums and the new albums from my favorite artists, but after one or two listens I'd find nothing in any of the songs really meant much of anything to me. I have a whole bunch of Christian CDs sitting around somewhere that I have never finished listening to.

Let me quickly note that this had nothing to do with how my personal relationship with God was going. In fact, this all started happening right after high school, shortly after I recommitted my life to God. At first I felt like a bad Christian, recommitting to God and then finding that I didn't like any of the songs people were singing about him. Heh. And as I've continued to grow closer to God, I *still* don't like most of these songs (but I don't feel guilty about it anymore).

The main two reasons I feel spiritually disconnected from most Christian music (there are many, but then this blog would be forever long, so here are the biggies):

1. It doesn't tackle the tough stuff.
This is changing a little bit, and there have always been a few artists unafraid to deal with the melancholy (Jars of Clay and Nichole Nordeman come to mind), but for the most part, Christian music is incredibly upbeat. It rarely acknowledges feelings of doubt, anxiety, anger at God or unexplained distance from Him, all of which I have dealt with and still deal with today. I began to feel that either the musicians were being dishonest about feeling close to God all the time, or they honestly never (or seldom) had these feelings, which meant they had a relationship with God that I couldn't identify with at all.

I said to someone recently that sometimes the worst part of dealing with depression or severe melancholia is feeling that you're all alone in this, and the Christian music I listened to only enforced that feeling: that either I was the only Christian with these feelings, or my responsibility was to just shove them down and ignore them and then I wouldn't feel them anymore.

For a religious group that focuses so much on the idea of humans as flawed, sinful beings, we seem to be very afraid to actually deal with that in our music.

2. It's very impersonal.
Sometimes I hear a silly pop love ballad on the radio and think, "Well, that was clearly written with nobody specific in mind." There's no sense of who it's being sung to, as well as no real sense of how the other person actually makes the singer *feel*. It uses words like "love" and "beautiful" and phrases like "I can't live without you" that are so generic they are easily transferrable to anyone in any romantic situation, and couples everywhere whose stories have nothing whatsoever in common can claim, "This is our song."

This is the flip side of a positive intention in Christian music - the desire for it to be universal, the desire to make songs other people can relate to. This is especially true for worship music, which is meant to be sung by a large, diverse group of people - they want it to be something everyone can sing along to and mean it. It's a nice idea. It just doesn't work for me. At all.

One of my very favorite love songs is "Someone Else's Clothes" by Jason Robert Brown, which opens with these lyrics:

I started smiling.
It’s not my style,
But it’s been highly recommended that I smile,
So I’ve been grinning
And, sad to say,
I think I like it.

JRB's one of my favorite musicians because his lyrics are *so* personal and *so* specific. Those lyrics up there don't apply to just anybody - they're about him. They're about someone who's a little grumpy, a little melancholy, and finds himself being (almost begrudgingly) nudged along to a happier way of life by the person he loves. That may not describe everyone. It doesn't entirely describe me (although I do frequently connect to his lyrics). But you can feel his personality through the song, which creates a stronger connection to the song for those who have similar personalities, and paints a delightful picture for those whose personalities are different. He's not singing about an abstract love for someone abstractly beautiful and feeling abstract chills when they abstractly touch. He's singing about himself and someone else, and the song knows exactly who that someone else is.

Christian worship songs all kind of mush into one big pot of cliche stew, where none of the phrases have to mean anything specific, just evoke a vague idea. Sometimes it feels like some sort of fill-in-the-blank madlibs. I once did an experiment where I put all the lyrics of a certain worship band into a randomizer, shuffled them all up, and read the first 10 lines or so out loud. Apart from the fact that it didn't rhyme, my siblings and I all agreed it sounded exactly like any other song from the band. Their lyrics were so interchangeable that it didn't even matter which order they came in.

I don't want love songs with interchangeable lyrics. Those aren't personal or interesting or anything I can even hope to relate to.

In Conclusion...
So. That's the main deal. It's hard for me to find Christian songs or artists to connect with because of those reasons. I find myself feeling frustrated and alienated by most of them, like these people are living in a world I've never been to and having a relationship with God I've only experienced on the occasional missions trip.

Ending on a positive note, here are a few Christian songs that *do* connect to me and my relationship to God:
1. Brian & Jenn Johnson - A Little Longer. There's a story behind this one. I'll share it sometime.
2. Chris Rice - I Need a Hero. Can't find a good link, unfortunately.

And, as an added bonus, a few not-at-all-Christian songs that make me feel close to God:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Whatever of 2011: Facebook Statuses

This is my "personal favorites" list, and I was going to narrow this down to 10, but that is so not happening. So I decided to keep pretty much all my first choices, but at least put them all in categories. So these are my favorite 2011 moments of... er, me. Sorry for the narcissism there.

These are all in reverse chronological order. Because that's how I saved them.

Quotes From the Family
Mom: Hey, Kevin, you wouldn't mind going out and getting me a magic pumpkin, would you? (Pause) I mean bacon cheeseburger.

Apparently as soon as I come home, Elizabeth starts saying crazy things. Tonight I said I needed to get my hair cut and she responded, "I need to get my hair... stuffed."
Elizabeth was 16 for most of 2011 and has the tendency to speak without thinking... or having words.

Me: I want string cheese.
Elizabeth: If you want, I can drive to Kroger and get some duct tape.
Me: What? How did you mix those up? Those are not at all the same thing.
Elizabeth: Well, they both have animals in their name.
Me: ....No, they don't.

Elizabeth was trying to remember Leonardo DiCaprio's name. So far, she's given me "Leolalo Lilaplio," "Leonigel," and "Ffffffffffffff."

Playing Celebrity with the family. The clue was "Blake Lewis." Rebekah's clue was, "He won American Idol! He's a rapper!" None of that is true. But somehow someone guessed it.

Elizabeth is leaving for her Honduras missions trip tomorrow. Mom advised her to stash her money in different places. I suggested she put some in her mouth. We then had a much-longer-than-it-should-have-been discussion of the pros and cons of carrying your money in your mouth.

Seth: "We should find a picture of Nathan when he was young, and then Nathan can draw a skull on it!" Uh... sure. Why didn't I think of that?
Seth was 9 and 10 in 2011. He is a very, very odd little boy.

Elizabeth: "What's that word? It's like, 'smockquill.'"
(Turns out the word she was looking for was "redundant.")

Now I know where Elizabeth gets it from when she gets people's names insanely wrong. Today, Mom has referred to Stefano from American Idol as "Sandusky" and "Snognut."

Seth came up to me and said, out of nowhere, "If you want to make fun of me because I'm short, it's OK, because *I* make fun of me because I'm short!" Uh. OK. Good to know.

Quotes From Friends
(About reading Greek plays for theater history.)
Me: We discovered that the strophe means that the Greek chorus chants as it moves from right to left across the stage, while in the antistrophe, they move left to right.
Sentynel: Is a catastrophe what happens when half the chorus is doing a strophe and the other half is doing an antistrophe?

(Listening to Skullcrusher Mountain together as we do homework)
Me: I like this song.
Jacob: Me too. I love it. It's how I want our relationship to be.
I should probably consider that a red flag, huh?

‎Heather: The high next week is going to be 31. THIRTY-ONE.
Me: I am not cool with winter.
Randy: I've been warming up to it.
Heather: It's definitely not giving me the cold shoulder.

Me: Whoa. Guys, I haven't eaten an apple in so long that I forgot they have a core. In my mind, I was going to just eat all the way through this caramel apple.
Heather: Surprise!
Sentynel: Also, turns out you have to peel bananas.
Stupid fruit.

I sent out a slightly melancholy text to some friends asking for happiness in return. Sarah Beck's response:
"Benedict Cumberbatch, Neil Patrick Harris,
Woody Allen movies and I bet you love Paris,
Watching a show about puppets who sing,
These are a few of your favorite things!"
Best. Text. Ever.

Me: I am hiding behind your door RIGHT NOW, ready to jump out and yell at you.
Josh: Which door? Closet or room?
Me: The one you least expect.
Yup. Look for me hiding in your refrigerators, people. It's what I do now.

Paige: I got a Droid, but didn't want it, so I gave it back.
Matt: Was it not the Droid you were looking for?
Hehehe. Slightly nerdy jokes make my night so much better.

I was in tech rehearsal for Guys and Dolls, when this happened.
(In RinkChat)
Me: Three, maybe four more hours of tech.
Heather: THERE ARE ONLY THREE HOURS OF TECH LEFT?! But...there's so much potential, and I'm...I'm so young...a whole career ruined... CIVILIZATION NEEDS TECH! WE CAN FIGHT AIDS! WE CAN LIVE ON MARS!
* Sentynel is attempting to speed-read the entire internet in three hours.

(Talking about friends who like "artsier" movies.)
Me: And by artsier, I mean not-just-rom-com-or-horror-movies.
Heather: Romanian comedies are quite the drag indeed. It's all, oh, haha, the elephant stole your tambourine!

It cracks me up when my roomie talks in her sleep. Usually it's just gibberish, but a minute ago she said, "I can see you chirping through the tongs, Mama Zommy!" What IS she dreaming about?

Me: I'm very self-centered in my conversation topics. People will have a topic going and I'll just be like "HERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT ME NOW."
Heather: LOL, I feel the same way.
Heather: ...do you realize that's exactly what we all just did?

* TalkingDog made up his own zodiac.
TalkingDog: From January: sandwich, ninja, penguin, Hawaii, dalek, koala, stapler, Don LaFontaine, Yoshi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, waffle, and Winnie the Pooh.
* TalkingDog considers this automatically superior to all other zodiacs.
I agree. Forget this I-was-a-Libra-now-I'm-a-Virgo nonsense! I'M AN OBI-WAN KENOBI!

Statuses About Music
I was *sure* I heard the Christian radio station playing these lyrics: "Filling up the skies with headless brains, headless brains." I hoped maybe it was a worship song written by a zombie, but then I realized they were singing "endless praise" and that was a little disappointing.

The Halloween theme is really great and all, but it does create an atmosphere. For example, if you're listening to it on your iPod on your way to class, and a leaf comes out of nowhere and hits you in the back of the head, your mind might freak out and think you've been stabbed.

"Asleep in the Light" was playing on Turntable when I decided I was going to go to sleep after my next song. Unfortunately, I announced that in chat right as Keith Green sang, "Jesus rose from the grave and you can't even get out of bed!" Now I'm feeling guilty. I guess I'll just have to stay up all night. Forever.

Pondering the lyrics for Do You Hear What I Hear? today: "A child, a child, shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold." Talk about an impractical gift. If they can afford silver and gold, can they not afford a blanket?

My iPod just played "Dance, Dance (If You Want To)" and "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" back to back. Awesome.

Looking over my philosophy notes, I just found this: "Weirob's objection: Blue River case. River has same characteristics, but not same water. Pocahontas says you can't step in the same river twice." That's right, I derive my philosophical arguments from Disney lyrics.

Going from "Caramelldansen" to Miriam Stockley's "Perfect Day" on iTunes is like drinking all the coffee ever and then trying to sleep.

Sometimes People Are Stupid
Found on WikiAnswers while searching for a ChaCha answer: "Eminem's IQ is 69%. I know people don't believe me, but it's true." Uh, you're right, I don't believe you. 69% is not anyone's IQ.

‎Someone on Turntable: "I can't even have cereal because I have no clean bowels." Uh. Sorry to hear that.

ChaCha question of the night: "Why was the movie idea of march called idea of match?" The answer I wanted to give: "But... it wasn't."

I was just told about someone calling online friends "imaginary friends." It seems most of my friends are imaginary. How do you all feel about not being real people?

That club ad says, "All the liquor, none of the clothes," but doesn't compare it to anything. Does it really have all the liquor EVER?

This online article is about finding out if your kid has an eating disorder. The picture for this article: A guy who looks about 20 staring mournfully at a stack of sugar cubes. What kind of eating disorder is this? Is he sad because he has to eat them or because he can't? Is this all he gets to eat at college?

Sometimes I Am Stupid
On my birthday...
Last night, Laura spent several minutes wrapping something up while we talked in our room, then she turned to me and said, "I'm not very good at hiding presents... Happy Birthday!" The best part is, it worked anyway because it didn't even *register* in my mind that she might be wrapping a present for me.

Me, just now, mumbling a prayer out loud for a friend: "Dear God, let her see you today. And find you. See you and find you. In that order. Uh. Or not in that order. What? Wow. I'm so tired, God."

Uh. Editing and proofreading is NOT something to be done in the middle of the night. I nearly printed out and handed in an assignment where, instead of writing "storm example," I wrote "snore snore." There's some advice for all you college freshmen out there.

This ChaCha user asked, "Why won't my wifi let me play Halo Reach online" but I thought it said "wife" instead of "wifi" and didn't really know how to answer that.

While singing along to Groovelily this morning, I sang "cayenne pepper" instead of "toilet paper" for some reason. Those really should not be substituted for each other, not in lyrics and DEFINITELY not in real life.

I always have a nagging fear that when I turn in a paper, I've missed stuff that I initially put there as a placeholder, and my prof will end up reading sentences like this: "Even a dark play like yadda yadda, you can find themes such as la ba dee boo." This is why proofreading is important.

I was frustrated and somehow ended up yelling, "AH FLIP POOP ON YOUR HEAD." I don't think I should adopt this as my expletive of choice.

Sometimes TweetDeck remembers the last name you clicked on for an @ reply, even if you clicked on it accidentally. I just almost sent Ryan Seacrest a message telling him I didn't like the movie Cabaret.

I told the Rinkies I was having schoolwork issues because my RA was wreaking havoc with me and messing with my fingers and wrists. I meant my rheumatoid arthritis, but didn't even THINK about how much people would assume I meant my resident advisor...

Two days in a row now I've accidentally ended the Pledge of Allegiance with, "Liberty and justice forever." Guess I'm a bad American.

Sometimes I Am Funny
When Daylight Savings Time switched.
I was going to go to bed at 1:50 last night, but then I watched the latest episode of New Girl instead so I didn't get to bed until 1:15.

This morning in church, our pastor asked at one point, "How strong is your faith?" My mind immediately responded, "As strong as a small pony. That's quite strong, that is."

For the last couple days, any time my littlest siblings ask me what movie or TV show I'm talking about, I say, "The Office." This means they now think The Office regularly features a baby and serial killers, and Jeremy Irons is in it. Someday when they watch the actual show they're going to be so disappointed.

There are still no other Hannah Megills on Facebook. And it is definitely not because I kill, eat, and delete any others who show up.

A sentence in the education journal I'm writing: "One example was the girl who held a 3.89 grade average and then later admitted that her school’s grade point averages went up to 6." It is taking EVERYTHING IN ME to keep from following it up with: "Spinal Tap's go to 11."

I Have Weird Dreams
Last night's dreams: 1) I went to chapel and the speaker's main point was, "There are more turtles in the sea than there are stars in the sky," and 2) HU put up a bronze statue of a sneezing baby and decided that was our new mascot.

I had a dream last night that David Hasselhoff was my father, but I saw him drown Bethany Megill in a swimming pool, so I rode away from him in a stagecoach as fast as I could.

I dreamed I was directing a play starring Lucy and Benedict Cumberbatch. But then Lucy got sick and I had to step in for her, and got to act with Benedict. But then, after the show, I was having a very deep discussion with him about art, and my mom showed up and made my clean my room, which made me super angry and I had like a little kid temper tantrum. Not the way to impress my celebrity boyfriend.

That cupcake was delicious, but I ate it on my bed and now there are sprinkles embedded in my sheets. Tomorrow morning they may be embedded in my arms. I'll look like a creepy kids' TV show host.

People we didn't know at Wal-Mart kept telling Laura and I that they were proud of us for buying a fridge. Eh? Is there a college stereotype we didn't know we were refuting?

At Pizza Hut tonight, we were all discussing movies that scared us. In the middle of this discussion, a girl I didn't know peered in the window at us, creepily grinned and waved, and then disappeared. WHAT.

This package of plastic knives says they're "great for entertaining." Now I want to have a party and just give everyone plastic knives.

Rejected Mao rule: If you play a joker, you have to do the Joker's pencil trick to someone at the table. (Especially helpful if you have too many people playing.)

Reading tomorrow's Religion & Theater play. It joked about misspelling "Klaatu barada nikto"... and then DID misspell it, with only one A in "Klaatu." This bothers me because I. AM. A. NERD.

FlickFights just discussed "the rough Disney time between Lion King and Pixar." I know what they mean, but...the time between 1994 and 1995?

The radio ad said, "We believe in making grocery shopping a social experience." NOOOOOOO! DON'T DO IT! THINK OF THE INTROVERTS!

RinkChat is awesome. Thanks to the good people there, I now know how much weight a 20-year-old guy would lose if he urinated for 30 minutes straight. (To quote Sentynel: "The Internet: answering questions you never knew you wanted to ask, since 1988.")

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top Whatever of 2011: Music

As with the movies post, this is about music I discovered (or listened to obsessively) in 2011, not music actually released in 2011.

My top 20 songs over the past year, according to Last.fm:
20. "Born This Way" by Sam Tsui. Not Sam Tsui's best cover or anything, but it made me like the song, which I hadn't up until then.
19. "<3" by songstowearpantsto.com. The most adorably nerdy love song EVER.
18. "Taylor the Latte Boy" by Alan Cumming. Put together one of my favorite love songs and one of my favorite singers, and you get this great cover.
17. "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" by Hanson. Turns out Hanson got awesome. The video is really what hooked me on the song, so it's worth watching.
16. "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers. I discovered it while watching 127 Hours and fell in love. I like upbeat-but-mellow songs, and this one definitely fits.
15. "The Creep" by The Lonely Island. Lonely Island wins all around, but this year I really got into this stalker song.
14. "Uninvited" from Sleeping Beauty Wakes. I've already talked about my love for Sleeping Beauty Wakes, which I discovered mostly in 2010, but apparently this song stuck around this whole year.
13. "Want You Gone" by Jonathan Coulton. Not quite as brilliant as Still Alive but possibly catchier.
12. "Marry Me" by Train. I don't always like Train (or love songs) but this song is gorgeous.
11. "Love Song Without Metaphor (1998)" by Groovelily. There are two versions of this song, but it's this earlier one with Brendan on the vocals that I love.
10. "On The Ground" by The Lonely Island. This was actually the song that got me back into hunting for Lonely Island songs. It cracks me up. "I'm an ADUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULT!"
9. "Bleeding Love" by The Baseballs. I got into some weird cross-genre covers this year, but this is easily my favorite. It takes a song I never really liked and puts it into a style I've never cared for and somehow I end up loving it.
8. "I Want You For Real" by Groovelily. Throughout the year, the band had been posting some songs from a demo album on their blog, and this was my favorite. It's a cute little love song about teenagers. And video games.
7. "Happy, Happy, Happy" by Groovelily. Man, this song is really satisfying to sing along with. There were a couple days this year when I would just play this a couple times in a row because it so exactly expressed how I felt. Good combination of sad and funny for me.
6. "Smile" by James Marsters. This song somehow always ends up in my most played songs of the year lists. (I shouldn't be that surprised, I guess. It is my all-time most played song on Last.fm.) I still love it. It's very soothing for me.
5. "Hold It Against Me" by Sam Tsui. I love when people take songs and sing unexpected versions of them. Britney's song slowed down becomes very pretty.
4. "Hedgehogs" by Weebl. I... am not sure how this happened. Admitting I listened to this song that much is a little embarrassing.
3. "Short People" by Randy Newman. As someone who's just barely 5'3", this song cracks me up. And I am all about songs with cheerful tunes and horribly mismatched lyrics. It's why I love JoCo and Bowling for Soup.
2. "Take Away My Dreams" by Groovelily. Yes, it has clearly been The Year of Groovelily. This song launched itself up to my #2 spot in about 2 weeks, which is pretty impressive. Coupled with "Happy, Happy, Happy," you have a good eight minutes or so of pure angst.
1. "God's Gift to Women" by Kate Miller-Heidke. Since I discovered this on YouTube, I decided I should link specifically to the video that hooked me (a Sherlock fanvid set to the song). It's catchy, it's funny, it's great fun to sing along to. Yup. I listened to this song a lot.

That's the main list. But here are some extras:

Songs in my most-played-of-the-year playlist on iTunes that didn't make it to the same list on Last.fm:
-"I Believe" from The Book of Mormon. I fell in love with this musical this year (as someone who considers herself very religious, I think it's hilarious) but this was by far my favorite song.
-"Model Behavior" from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. A hilarious song from David Yazbek's new musical. I've listened to it 20 times or so and I think I have maybe 40% of the lyrics down.
-"Don't Let It Bring You Down" by Annie Lennox. Discovered when rewatching American Beauty. This song is haunting.
-"Another Night At Darryl's" from The Witches of Eastwick. (Video quality isn't great, but the audio is fantastic.) I've been very slowly discovering this show over the past year, suddenly falling in love with a song at a time. This was the one I discovered first, so it got played the most.
-"As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Glee. My favorite singer on the show covers a gorgeous song from one of my favorite Webber musicals. When this song played on the show, I audibly squealed because I was so psyched to hear this version. It's grown to be one of my very favorites they've ever done. Chris Colfer brings a beautiful vulnerability to the song.
-"Raise Your Glass" from Glee. I really just love the song (power anthems for the uncool always speak to me) but, um, Darren Criss. He's why this version is here instead of the Pink version.

Songs I put into my "Favorites of 2011" playlist that didn't get played quite enough to end up on the most-played lists:
-"Rolling In the Deep" from Glee. I like this arrangement of the song actually better than Adele's. Also, Jonathan Groff. Yeah, I have a thing for a lot of the male singers in Glee.
-"Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants. What a weird little song. But so catchy and happy!
-"Today With Your Wife" by Jonathan Coulton. My favorite song from his new album. I love how he can write funny songs, happy songs, and then... this.
-"Jack Sparrow" by The Lonely Island. I just rewatched the music video and even though I've seen it and heard it a lot, it still makes me laugh. "Turns out Michael Bolton is a major cinephile." (This one, unlikely the other two Lonely Island songs in this post, does have adult language, so be aware of that.)

So. Those were some of my favorite songs of 2011. Here's to whatever I discover in 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top Whatever of 2011: Movies

Well, 2011 is over. And I'm a nerdy stickler about not starting my "best of 2011" lists until 2011 is actually over. Because sometimes you find something in the last hours of the year that jumps up into the lists. I didn't this year, but sometimes it happens! I'm sure it does. Probably.

OK, so here's a relatively quick one. These are my top 11 movies I saw in 2011.
(Disclaimer 1: These are just the movies I saw in 2011, not the movies that actually came out in 2011, although two of those did make the list.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not doing top 11 as a Spinal Tap reference or a Nostalgia Critic reference or a "2011" reference. It's because I had 1 movie I rated 5 stars this year and 10 I rated 4.5, and I couldn't decide which one movie to bump off the list.)

Here goes, with ever-so-brief commentary, but mostly links to the actual mini reviews.

11. Evil (2003)
Probably the least known of my picks this year. It's a Swedish flick about a teenage boy who is expelled from school for fighting and ends up at a boarding school where the power is very much in the hands of the older students. Fascinating to watch it all play out - and there are some really great characters.

10. In the Bedroom (2001)
My review on the original site is so mini, I'm pretty sure anything I write here is going to be longer than the original. It's a really compelling drama with superb acting. There. There we go.

9. Another Woman (1988)
The first Woody Allen flick I enjoyed after a string of disappointing ones. A great, thoughtful story with some amazing acting from Gena Rowlands.

8. Chaplin (1992)
I'm a bit biased because of my love of showbiz and showbiz movies, but this movie just touched me. Robert Downey, Jr. makes a surprisingly great Chaplin.

7. Black Swan (2010)
I had never been completely convinced of Natalie Portman's acting prowess... until this movie. And Darren Aronofsky does the best movies about obsession I have ever seen.

I saw this one a couple times (really rare for me to do in the same year) and was surprised how interesting the story was the second time around, too. It's just good writing and good directing. And Jesse Eisenberg's fantastic.

5. The Beaver (2011)
I had no idea I was going to love this movie as much as I did. It's such a bizarre story but it really hit home for me. Extremely touching in a quirky way.

The first movie I saw in 2011, and it was so worth watching. It's nearly all dialogue (it was based on a play originally) but creates a dramatic atmosphere full of tension. Wonderfully done.

3. 127 Hours (2010)
This movie could have been a really generic action thriller, but instead it was one of my very favorites from 2010. The last 20 minutes or so, I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it in the theater.

My favorite Woody Allen film of the last many years. It's delightful and charming and although I never would have expected Owen Wilson to be able to play the Woody Allen role, he nailed it. It's the movie of 2011 I've been telling everyone I know to see.

I'm very stingy with my 5-star ratings, and the only movie that got one this year wasn't even really a movie, it was...

1. The miniseries Angels in America (2003)
I watched this is my Religion & Theater class this past spring, and fell head over heels in love with it. It's an amazing play and an amazing miniseries. The dialogue is great, the characters are great, the acting is great... I do need to own this some time.

All in all, I watched 213 new-to-me movies in 2011, which is a record for me. Last year I only saw 143. Whoo! I'm sure 2012 will be a bit slower for me as I will be student teaching in the spring and then, well, hopefully teaching for real in the fall - definitely working - so I'll have less movie-watching time.

Tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it) - best music I discovered in 2011.