Monday, April 29, 2013

My "Impossible to Be Sad" Playlist

I am focusing over the next few weeks on being more positive and working to find ways to encourage happiness, joy and thankfulness in myself. This is not necessarily an easy task for me, as it's one thing to say "I should try to be happier" and quite another thing to actually make the decision not to wallow in my malcontent. I will be blogging a bit about that over the next few weeks, taking a brief break from being snarky (no Jessie reviews for a bit) and focus on blogging about positive things and my own journey towards embracing the positive.

In light of that, however, I'm reposting a note I wrote on Facebook back in 2010 - an "it is impossible for me to be sad now" mix that I put together of songs that just made overwhelmingly happy. I've included YouTube links to the songs in question and added a few new favorites. These songs continue to be some of my favorites when I'm feeling down. It's amazing, the power that music can have over us.

Original List

1. "Footloose" by Rockapella. [Note: I could not find Rockapella's version on YouTube, so I have linked to the original by Kenny Loggins.] Really, most versions of this song would work. This one just happened to the one I had at hand. An extremely triumphant movie ending with an extremely triumphant song.
This song makes me want to: Get up and dance!

2. "That's How You Know" from Enchanted. I'm kind of a sucker for songs that build up to involving huge amounts of people in a swelling chorus at the end... This one is so ridiculously happy.
This song makes me want to: Go skipping through New York City.

3. "Hot Air Balloon" by Owl City. I think it's the instrumentation of this song I love more than anything else.
This song makes me want to: Lie on my back in a field and watch clouds.

4. "It's Your Wedding Day" from The Wedding Singer. This show is one of my guilty pleasures, and it was very difficult to narrow it down to just having one song from there on my list. (Honorable mentions go to songs such as "Single" which have very sad lyrics but deliver them in a ridiculously happy way.)
This song makes me want to: Go to... well, not necessarily a wedding. But SOME sort of happy celebrating party.

5. "After Today" from A Goofy Movie. I've slowly come to the realization that A Goofy Movie features some of the all-time best songs in Disney's repertoire. And this is the best one from the movie.
This song makes me want to: Be done with school! Heh. Whenever I listen to this song on the last day of school, I can't stop smiling.

6. "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit" from How I Met Your Mother. Neil Patrick Harris is a brilliant song-and-dance man, and he takes this silly little song about the brilliance of suits and makes it somehow very epically cheerful. And awesome.
This song makes me wants to: See Neil Patrick Harris in a live show. But it also makes me wish life was a musical.

7. "Nine Percent Chance" from High Fidelity. This has GOT to be one of the most optimistic songs every written. Heh. "Maybe there is a God! Maybe I've got a prayer! Maybe, oh, maybe Elvis isn't dead!"
This song makes me want to: Be more hopeful about my life.

8. "High of '75" by Relient K. This song really connects with me because my mood is sometimes very strongly connected to my atmosphere. Cloudy days or darkened rooms make me sad or angry... Sun and light in general make me happier! So it makes me think of happy sunny days.
This song makes me want to: Enjoy my life, 'cause I'm happy to be alive!

9. "That Thing You Do!" by The Wonders. It technically has sad lyrics, but it's hard to tell because the music is way too happy for it.
This song makes me want to: Dance!

10. "I'll Cover You" from Rent. Rent has a lot of great upbeat songs, but most of them have sort of a rebel feel to them. This one's just pure happy.
This song makes me want to: Be in love! But not with a gay guy with AIDS. That would end sadly for me.

11. "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi. A lot of the awesomeness of A Charlie Brown Christmas comes from the awesome soundtrack behind it. This one's a little bit more of a mellow happy than the last few on the mix, but it's still impossible for me to be sad to!
This song makes me want to: Do the Snoopy dance. Also, celebrate Christmas.

12. "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys. Admittedly, some of the happiness of this song comes from the fact that it's used beautifully at the end of Love Actually, my favorite chick flick ever. And it's not exactly an all-happy song, but it just fills me with a sense of joy to have the friends and family I have.
This song makes me want to: Hug people at an airport! Okay, not really. That was just in the movie. It does make me think of my loved ones, though, and breathe a sigh of contentment.

13. "Singin' in the Rain" from Singin' in the Rain. I've thought for awhile now that this is one of the happiest scenes in movie history. I can't watch this and not feel better about life. While the song is not quite as effective sans dance sequence, I still love it, especially that last chorus where the music suddenly swells. Good stuff!
This song makes me want to: ...Do I even have to say it?

14. "Upular" by Pogo. This is actually the song that inspired me to make this mix in the first place. I haven't been able to stop listening to this the past few days. It's a song using sound samples from the movie Up, and you end up with an absurdly cheerful song that is awfully hard to sing along to, heh, but sure makes *me* feel a lot better about life.
This song makes me want to: Watch clouds. Maybe I'll see a house on balloons, too.

15. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song. One of my favorite theme songs of all time (and this is my favorite version of the theme: "But his boss didn't like him so he shot him into space"). Totally silly but super fun. Complete with random "la la la"s throughout.
This song makes me want to: ...Well, watch MST3K, really.

16. "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. Hairspray was another show that almost made it into this mix a couple times...but in the end, nothing in there beats this song for sheer dancing joy. One of the most satisfying musical endings in existence.
This song makes me want to: Dance! But in TRIUMPH!

17. "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson. Sometimes this song gets overlooked amidst all his other hit songs, but it's becoming one of my very favorites. It's not deep or substantive, but it's airy and light and fun.
This song makes me want to: Walk, actually. This isn't a dancey song as much as it is... walking. With a spring in your step. And an occasional twirl. :-)

18. "Caramelldansen," the Speedycake remix. There's kind of a hyperactive happiness to this song that just always makes me feel a bit better about my life. And a bit more energetic, too.
This song makes me want to: Twirl around in circles for no reason.

19. "So Much Better" from Legally Blonde. This is my other guilty pleasure show. This is a great song about celebrating when something good suddenly comes your way.
This song makes me want to: Feel better about myself!

20. "Roll in the Hay" from Young Frankenstein. Despite all the awkward innuendos in the song, it's extremely fun to sing. The yodeling part is my favorite.
This song makes me want to: Go on a hayride, actually. Although I hate hayrides, so I probably wouldn't want to.

21. "I'm Not That Smart" from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Although a portion of this song is actually fairly sad, lyrically, this character is just so happy and cheerful about life that it makes it all work. The part where he's just singing nonsense sounds makes me smile a lot. "I like it a lot!"
This song makes me want to: See my little brothers. Heh. It reminds me of them a little bit.

22. "Dear Prudence" from Across the Universe. I like this movie in general, but I LOVE what they did with this song. It became this very... peaceful, content call to enjoy how great life is.
This song makes me want to: Sit in a field of grass and just listen to music. Maybe this song in particular! I don't know. Heh.

23. "Jetzt ist Sommer" by Wise Guys. I really love these guys. They're a German a cappella group and they're great fun, but this song in particular is just great.
This song makes me want to: Speak German. Dance. Go outside. Be done with school. Not necessarily in that order.

Just a Couple Essential Additions to That List

24. "I Feel So Much Spring" from A New Brain. I discovered this just a year or two ago and fell in love with it. It's about freedom from all the things that have oppressed you. "What was dark so long had felt like winter, finally there's sun, and so I sing that I feel so much spring." This is how it feels, folks, when you suddenly realize you're not depressed today.
This song makes me want to: Feel the release and relief of all my burdens being gone.

25. "Thinkin' Bout Somethin'" by Hanson. Another song about the joys of moving past the trials, in this case a breakup. The singer is no longer preoccupied by thoughts of that relationship, and that feels awesome.
This song makes me want to: Dance around celebrating the triumphs I have had.

26. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen. I didn't listen to much Queen when I started this mix, but now this is one of my favorites. The song just keeps soaring and flying and getting happier all the time.
This song makes me want to: Not be stopped. Seriously. I just want to power on through everything and be awesome.

How about you guys? If you were making an "it's impossible for me to be sad when I listen to these songs" playlist, what would you include?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 40-31

#40. "Uninvited" from Sleeping Beauty Wakes. Sung from the point of view of the evil fairy in the Sleeping Beauty story. It's a great angry song with clever lyrics and fantastically fun music, and it is so satisfying to sing along to at the top of my lungs. As far as villain songs go, it's one of the best.

#39. "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company. And here we have a completely different kind of angry woman song. While the evil fairy is screaming and furious and vowing revenge, Joanne from Company is a miserable creature who, try as she might, gets no real pleasure out of mocking others. Patti LuPone's version of this song is almost devastating in how hopeless a character she is. The song is truly an incredible one, and there have been some great versions, but this remains my favorite.

#38. "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. Oh, I really needed to watch this right now. Heh. This is one of the most relentlessly happy songs I have ever heard. It's just verse after verse of pure glee and it's impossible to listen to it and not smile at least a little bit. As each character joins in about finding their own personal joy and freedom, I just get happier and happier, and by the end I just want to get up and dance along with them. Easily one of the best ending numbers of all time.

#37. "Everybody's Got the Right" from Assassins. The one at the end, not at the beginning. This show is about those who assassinated and attempted to assassinate our presidents, and it ends with this bizarre, dark, chilling song about how "no one can be put in jail for their dreams." It ends with each assassin firing a gun - indicating that that was part of pursuing their own dreams.

#36. "La Vie Boheme" from Rent. I might not be much of a bohemian myself (I appreciate rules and boundaries far too much), but this song touting the lifestyle's virtues is fun and infectious and so fun to sing along with, even if it does have a lot of in-between dialoguey parts that are kind of weird to hear if you don't know all the background story.

#35. "Drifting" from Sleeping Beauty Wakes. This song about two young people discovering their interest in each other while swimming is dreamy and beautiful and lovely. This time listening to it, I was blown away by how the lyrics truly are beautiful poetry. The words sound incredible. "Pebbles descending, their patterns extending, ripples expanding and weaving and blending, till the surface is as smooth as glass again." Every time I hear this song, I just want to close my eyes, shut everybody else out, and just listen.

#34. "On My Own" from Les Miserables. Emo? Yes. Horrendously overused? Absolutely. Still connects with me on a much deeper level than I sometimes like to admit? Heck yeah. I've loved this song since I first found it, and I still love it. Eponine's a wonderful character for reserved teenage girls, as she is all about keeping her emotions in so nobody really knows what's going on. Then, when she's all alone, she allows herself to imagine what could be if things went her way. There's a reason it gets my vote for THE best unrequited love showtune ever. Also, the music is so, so pretty.

#33. "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. I had heard this song several times, but never really paid attention to it until I saw the movie. It was used in all these talent competitions for females to show off their big belty voices, but it wasn't until Jennifer Hudson's heartbreaking performance that I got it. It is so much more than a loud belty song. It is a raw, broken, desperate, terrified song. Rewatching this, I'm blown away by Hudson once again in this. Watch her hands and how tense and trembly they are - she doesn't have any big powerful diva moves, this song isn't about big powerful diva moves. She's terrified she's going to lose her man, and her determination to keep him is furious in its intensity. It's incredible. I've seen other great performances of the song since then, but this is still my very favorite.

#32. "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon. And, after those more serious numbers, we have this. My apologies to my Mormon friends, but this song always makes me giggle. Andrew Rannells is hilarious as this naive but enthusiastic missionary who is convinced that by spouting his doctrine cheerfully at the Ugandan warlord in some of the most offensive ways possible, that everything will be fixed! Needless to say, that is not how it works out.

#31. "Stars and the Moon" from Songs for a New World. One of Jason Robert Brown's most incredible songs (of course, I say that and I'm sure I have a few more in my top 30). It tells the story of a woman who searched her whole life for what she thought she wanted in a relationship, only to find out she may have been wrong. The imagery is captivating, the music beautiful, and Audra McDonald's rendition here is gorgeous

We only have three more weeks, guys! We are almost done with this series! Whoo!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Most Positive People in My Life

I've been fighting off a series of small depressive episodes over the past two weeks or so. More and more I've been having difficulty with the negativity on my Facebook. I have a melancholy streak and am not afraid to express my displeasure with things that truly bother me, so I generally have a high tolerance for disgruntledness, but this week I can't take it. Every angry, mocking, judgmental status pierces through my soul and sinks it, and I'm left feeling despondent and alone, like everyone on Facebook is angry, and they'd probably be angry at me if they really talked to me, and all I want to do is retreat into my shell and not talk to anyone.

Of course, that's a negative reaction to a negative problem.

So instead, I've decided I'm going to focus on some positive things over the next week or so. That will probably be reflected on my blog as well.

Today I want to focus on the people who are a very positive force in my life. I don't just mean they're good for me, I mean they inspire me to be more positive. Not all of these people are people I'm super close friends with. Some I only spend occasional time with. The fact that I love good snark means that the majority of my friends are sarcastic and snarky and negative right along with me. But I wanted to thank the people who gear me toward optimism, hopefulness, and joy.

My fiancé Jacob. It was one of the very first things I liked about him, actually - that he didn't like to speak negatively of the people around us and worked to keep himself looking at things from a positive angle. Even when he doesn't do it consistently and gets negative or complainy, he recognizes positivity as something he wants to strive for, and he works at it.

My sister Bethany. When I was in high school, I made fun of how tender-hearted she was (because I was a terrible, terrible sister in high school) but now I am very impressed by how much she really cares about the people around her and doesn't ever want to think less of them for any reason.

My mother and my sister Elizabeth. I've bundled them together not because they only count as half a person, but because they have the same series of traits that make them a positive force. It's a combination of the fact that they're super hard to offend (seriously, I have to work a lot to make Elizabeth angry these days) and the fact that, even when difficult situations come up, they somehow find a way to find the positive in it and power through it without being defeated by it.

My New Life friends Lisa and Jessica. While I have definitely been around for some less-than-happy times in their lives as well, their joy is absolutely infectious. Even if I am sad, being around either of these two when they are ecstatically happy brings my mood up and reminds me how exciting it is to see other people happy. You can't be sad when these two are happy. You just can't.

My Huntington friend Kate. She is one of those people who always looks for something she can be positive about, rather than something to criticize. She doesn't give vague words of affirmation, either - "You're great" and "You're awesome" - but she finds very specific things to encourage me with, somehow always managing to touch on the one thing I need to hear, and I always leave feeling better about both myself and the world as a whole.

My married New Life friends Tim and Jessie. I think what is always most positive for me about Tim and Jessie is how genuine they are about liking people. Even if they don't know you very well, they find something about you to like. Then, once they find that, they make sure you know they admire that in you. Every time I hang out with them, I leave encouraged.

There are many more people who have been positive forces in my life but today I wanted to thank them. Optimism and positive attitudes are often not easy for people, and these nine people do an incredible job of inspiring that in me.

Thank you guys.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Highlights from What We Talk About When We Talk About God

I've just finished reading Rob Bell's new book. Rest assured, it's not nearly as controversial as Love Wins. Unfortunately, it's not quite as interesting either. Anyone familiar with Rob Bell's previous work, especially Velvet Elvis and his DVD Everything is Spiritual, will find that this is just a condensed rehash of a lot of the things he said there. It's good, but it's not particularly new. However, I did want to share the passages I highlighted on my Kindle as I read the book. If you don't want to read the book and just want to read the parts I thought were most interesting, here you go:

The great German scholar Helmut Thielicke once said that a person who speaks to this hour’s need will always be skirting the edge of heresy, but only the person who risks those heresies can gain the truth.


Whatever we say about God always rests within the larger reality of what we can’t say; meaning always resides within a larger mystery; knowing always takes place within unknowing; whatever has been revealed to us surrounded by that which hasn’t been revealed to us.


This is because conviction and humility, like faith and doubt, are not opposites; they’re dance partners. It’s possible to hold your faith with open hands, living with great conviction and yet at the same time humbly admitting that your knowledge and perspective will always be limited.


This is one of the reasons we watch movies, attend recovery groups, read memoirs, and sit around campfires telling stories long after the fire has dwindled down to a few glowing embers. It’s written in the Psalms that “deep calls to deep,” which is what happens when you get a glimpse of what someone else has gone through or is currently in the throes of and you find yourself inextricably, mysteriously linked with that person because you have been reminded again of our common humanity and its singular source, the subsurface unity of all things that is ever before us in countless manifestations but requires eyes wide open to see it burst into view.


[Y]ou can be very religious and invoke the name of God and be able to quote lots of verses and be well versed in complicated theological systems and yet not be a person who sees. It’s one thing to sing about God and recite quotes about God and invoke God’s name; it’s another be aware of the presence in every taste, touch, sound, and embrace.

With Jesus, what we see again and again is that it’s never just a person, or just a meal, or just an event, because there’s always more going on just below the surface.


To elevate abstract doctrines and dogmas over living, breathing, embodied experiences of God’s love and grace, then, is going the wrong direction. It’s taking flesh and turning it back into words.


When someone wrongs us, we rarely (if ever) want to do the same thing back. Why? Because we want to do something more harmful. Likewise, when someone insults us, our instinct is to search for words that will be more insulting.

Revenge always escalates.


To make it really clear and simple, let’s call this movement across history we see in passages like the ones we just looked at from Exodus and Deuteronomy clicks. What we see is God meeting people at the click they’re at, and then drawing them forward.

When they’re at F, God calls them to G.
When we’re at L, God calls us to M.

And if we’re way back there at A, God meets us way back there at A and does what God always does: invites us forward to B.


Churches and religious communities and organizations can claim to speak for God while at the same time actually being behind the movement of God that is continuing forward in the culture around them . . .

without their participation.


In one of the accounts of Jesus’s death we read that the curtain in the temple of God—the one that kept people out of the holiest place of God’s presence—


One New Testament writer said that this ripping was a picture of how, because of Jesus, we can have new, direct access to God.

A beautiful idea.

But the curtain ripping also means that God comes out, that God is no longer confined to the temple as God was previously.


When the female voice is repressed and stifled, the entire community can easily find themselves cut off from the sacred feminine, depriving themselves of the full image of god.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 50-41

We've passed the halfway mark and are zooming on toward our goal of finishing this thing. We're getting to the point where every song I see on the list makes me go, "Oh, I love that one!" Onward!

#50. "I'll Cover You" from Rent. This song is full of such glee and such love. As cheesy as the movie may be when it shows the two of them running through New York City hand in hand, singing, it absolutely fits the tone of the song. (And it's heartbreaking when the song is turned into a lament during the reprise in Act 2.) This is one of those songs that just makes me purely happy whenever I listen to it.

#49. "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" from Guys and Dolls. I don't think I've had cause to mention it yet in this series, but I really, really, really like showtunes that are patterned after sort of... church revival songs. I don't even know why. I don't like actual gospel church revival songs. Just when they show up in musicals. And this one is one of my very favorites. It's a gambler making up the story of how he found religion, and it's a great big crowd song-and-dance number (though in the clip I have here, the dancing mostly involves... well, sitting down).

#48. "Somewhere" from West Side Story. This is such a great musical, and this song is a very powerful one. It's both hopeful and tragically sad, and although there have been many great covers of it, I really love this version, because the context is what makes this song what it is. It's a hopeful song, but it's not a wistful song. The need to find a place "somehow, someday, somewhere" is a desperate one, tinged with sadness and terror and nearly giving up but for the hope that somewhere there's something better. Without that context, the song is sweet and inspirational, but it lacks the heartrending punch it has when it's seen in the original story.

#47. "All the Wasted Time" from Parade. This song is another one of those JRB songs that I didn't pay much attention to at first, but the more I listened, the more I loved it, though it's hard for me to explain why, so I'll just give you the context. It's about a couple who has not had a terribly happy marriage, and it's only after the husband is jailed for something he didn't do and his wife goes to great lengths to free him that they rediscover their love. The song is very honest and very lovely. The clip here is of the original cast performing a very slightly abridged version.

#46. "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast. I have always have a soft spot for emo "I shall never be loved" songs, although this one has a slightly twist - it's a "What if I am incapable of love?" song. It's got a gorgeous melody and very pretty words, and it has always kind of connected with me as a sad song about being deeply unhappy with who you are. I really love this version I found on YouTube, which is from Beauty and the Beast: A Concert on Ice, and has lovely vocals from James Barbour and a very moving skating routine going along with it.

#45. "Electricity" from Billy Elliot. This is a new favorite, but it has zoomed up my list. It's from the musical based on the movie about a young boy who discovers he loves dancing. This scene comes from the  moment where he auditions to get into a ballet school, and they ask him why he likes dancing. He stumbles through a series of analogies, trying to put into words what it's like, and then simply demonstrate. I really, really love the opening of this song and have listened to it a ridiculous amount of times for me. I sympathize with him that it's so very hard to put into words why you love what you love. Sometimes you just have to fumble around with words, give a couple close-but-not-quite answers, and then settle for that.

#44. "On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492" from Songs for a New World. A song sung from the POV of Columbus sailing for the new world and almost losing hope. This song also has a touch of gospel feel to it, and the whole song is definitely a prayer. It's one that I easily identify with. It's one of those songs that is very easy for me to just get lost in, with headphones on and eyes closed.

#43. "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music. One of Sondheim's most beautiful melodies, and some of his saddest lyrics. It's about lost opportunities and missed chances and awful timing, and it haunts me for a little while whenever I hear it. I very much enjoy Bernadette Peters' version here - it sounds lovely vocally and is acted superbly.

#42. "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent. Rent may not be nearly as deep or substantial as I thought it was when I was teenager, but it's still got some great songs with incredible energy. This fight song between Maureen and Joanne is one of my favorites, with its upbeat feel and fun lyrics. It's a blast to sing along to, let me tell you.

#41. "A Summer in Ohio" from The Last 5 Years. This was one of the very first songs I ever liked from The Last 5 Years. It's a cheerful jazzy song about a long distance relationship. The lyrics are funny and snarky but still heartfelt, and the tune is just so perky. I'm sharing here the Lauren Kennedy version from the Chicago premiere, though there are also videos of Sherie Rene Scott doing the show when it ran off-Broadway. Though I like Scott better in general, I prefer Kennedy's version of this song.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Movies I Saw in March

Two weeks into April, I've decided to bring back this feature where I do a quick summary of the movies I saw the previous month. I do review every movie I watch over on my review blog Hannah and Her Movies, as well as on my Letterboxd page, but if you want just a quick update about what I've been watching, this is the place to go.

I saw 24 new movies in March. Here they are from best to worst.

The Sessions (2012) - You'd think this movie would be bawdy, but it isn't at all. It's a tasteful and moving drama about someone's therapy sessions. Beautifully done.

Flight (2012) - One of Denzel's best performances in year. Incredible drama with a captivating ending.

Argo (2012) - Great thriller with plenty of suspense. Nicely done.

Smashed (2012) - A very touching film about addiction, with an incredible performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Sort of a modern day Days of Wine and Roses.

A Few Good Men (1992) - No surprise that a movie written by Aaron Sorkin based on a play also written by him has good writing and great characters. Solid and well-executed.

White Heat (1949) - James Cagney's villain is the best thing about this movie, but that's saying a lot, because the whole thing is pretty darn solid.

Key Largo (1948) - A really solid mostly-one-room drama with good characters and excellent writing.

Liberal Arts (2012) - Josh Radnor's getting there, as a writer/director. He's still got a ways to go, but this movie is definitely worth a watch.

The Master (2012) - Incredible acting performances, but I totally get why the public didn't warm to it.

Black Narcissus (1947) - A very bizarre movie that creeps up on you with how eerie it gets. I liked it, but I wasn't sure I liked it halfway through.

Seeking a Friend For the End of the World (2012) - I really really really hope Steve Carell does more dramatic roles. He was incredible in this. And I really really really hope I never have to see Keira Knightley in anything again. She still just annoys me.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) - Clever idea, but Ralph and that little girl were by far the least interesting characters in it.

Chasing Amy (1997) - Better than I expected, given how much I truly truly hated Mallrats. Definitely watchable.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) - It's fine. I really have no opinion on this movie. I didn't emotionally invest in it in any way.

Singles (1992) - Like all ensemble films, some of the plotlines are worth it and a lot of them are really not.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) - I thought I was going to really love this movie, but really it just ended being a really disturbing variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl story. With possible awful death.

Children of Paradise (1945) - My final film in my 28 Days of Romance movie challenge, it has a great beginning and a really disappointing ending.

Rust and Bone (2012) - One or two really nice moments, but overall I just felt disconnected.

There's Something About Mary (1998) - The jokes are over-the-top and drawn out far too long. Even the ones that start off funny stop being funny about halfway through their run.

The Devil Inside (2012) - A really nice, atmospheric beginning and a suitably creepy ending, but the middle is a chaotic mess.

Top Gun (1986) - I am so not the target audience for this movie. Result: bored.

Red River (1948) - Mostly boring, then suddenly very confusing, with an ending that made next to no sense.

One for the Money (2012) - A bizarre, meandering movie, and Katherine Heigl is as unlikable as ever.

The Mask (1994) - This movie was an awful, awful execution of what could have been a pretty entertaining idea.

Have you seen any of these? Which ones did you like? What movies have you seen recently?

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Top 6 Happiest Movies of All Time

Sometimes I find a movie that just makes me transcendentally happy. No matter what I'm dealing with or what I'm going through, it makes me smile and brings relief from whatever crap is actually going on in my life. Everybody has their own list of the movies that make them happiest. Here is mine, in the order they appear on my Flickchart. (I scrolled through my top 50, figuring anything after that would probably be a step below all these favorites.)

Love Actually

I completely and (mostly) unashamedly love this movie. Everything about it makes me smile, from the ridiculous-but-heartwarming plotline where Colin Firth learns Portuguese for the girl he loves, to the ridiculous-but-heartwarming scene where the little boy who plays Ferb runs through the airport to tell the American girl he loves her... It's just all wonderful and incredible and makes me smile and feel both mushily romantic AND Christmasy. This is easily my favorite feel-good movie ever. Now, I admit, you have to be pretty open to cheesy rom com cliches to get into this... but once you do, it's well worth it.

Singin' in the Rain

I just rewatched this the other day and was struck again by how pervasive the sense of glee is. Every single song and dance number is done with such a deliberate sense of "I'm throwing all my cares away to sing because it FEELS GOOD, guys," that you can't help but be sucked into it. I've written many times about the genius of the "Moses" dance number, which has zero point in the movie, plotwise, but it is the absolute epitome of that goofy sense of play that runs throughout the entire movie. I can't watch any of the musical numbers in this without smiling.


I promise not all the ones on my list are going to be musicals, but one of the most effective ways of making me happy is to give me a big song and dance number. Hairspray's all about kids who just love to dance and love being themselves, and the music is infectiously cheerful and energetic. Most of the time I literally cannot keep still during that last number - I have to be tapping my feet or swaying a little bit. They were right - you can't stop the beat.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The freedom in this movie is incredibly joyous. Pure escapism at its best - there's no way Ferris should be able to get away with any of this, but he does, purely by virtue of being himself and being awesome. And yet along the way it manages to make an interesting point or two about having to actually face reality, since every day can't actually be a party. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile whenever I see it.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

I think the best part of this movie for me is that there are clearly no actual bad guys and no actual consequences. Not even when a bunch of historical figures get loose and go crazy inside a mall is there a sense that something could actually go wrong. Now, usually, when the stakes aren't high enough or believable enough, it weakens a movie, but I think it's the strength of this one. It's ridiculous, it's hilarious, and Bill and Ted themselves are so happy-go-lucky about the whole thing that all you can do is enjoy the journey.

The Court Jester

There's a heavy dose of nostalgia mixed in with my love for this one. I grew up on this movie, and it is, to date, my favorite of all the Danny Kaye movies I've seen. It's got a fast-paced, complicated plot, with hilarious twists and turns, but Kaye's lead character is so likable and easy to root for that you can't help smiling at all the bizarre situations he finds himself in. It mixes adventure and comedy beautifully. And, really, how can you not enjoy a movie that includes a character desperately trying to remember the phrase, "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true"?

(Honorable mentions: Moulin Rouge!, The Truman Show, and Midnight in Paris. All had some incredibly happy moments, but as a whole those movie are a bit more touch-and-go. Not in terms of quality, just in terms of happiness.)

All right, everybody. How about you? What are your favorite feel-good movies?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 60-51

#60. "The Sales Pitch" from Striking 12. Oh, how I love Groovelily. This was one of the very first songs of theirs I fell in love with, and I still love it. From the awesome sales spiel (which is crazy fun to sing along to, btw) to the second verse, where we get to hear the guy's thoughts, to the third verse, where everything kind of completely unravels, it's just a really entertaining song with a unique sound.

The Sales Pitch (2005) from Rob Bond on Vimeo.

#59. "Big-Ass Rock" from The Full Monty. I'm sure I've stayed on here before how much I really love cheerful songs about horrible things. Well, this is one of those. The tune is so pretty and it sounds so lovely unless you listen to the actual words, which are about a group of guys offering to help kill their suicidal friends. (Don't worry, none of them die, they just become male strippers instead.) I love how inspirational the song sounds and how uninspirational it actually is.

#58. "I'd Give It All For You" from Songs for a New World. You know how you can hear a song a dozen times, and then one day it suddenly jumps out at you as being the most incredible song ever? That happened with this one. One day I was casually listening to and was just struck by how beautiful it is. The musical monologues by the girl who has left and the guy she left behind that meld together into their reuniting is just absolutely gorgeous. Lovelovelove.

#57. "Scrap" from The Full Monty. Annnnd here is this show again. It sure is a fun one. This one sounds a little less pretty than the other one, but I absolutely love it. The harmonies are fascinating, the sound is an interesting combination of angry and defeated, and it's just an overall interesting-sounding song.

#56. "I Dare Say I'm In Love" from Sleeping Beauty Wakes. Well, it's the Groovelily-and-Full-Monty hour here, huh? This song just makes me insanely happy. It perfectly captures the giddy feeling of falling in love and dances around with it for three and a half minutes. One of my very favorite songs from one of my very favorite musicals.

I Dare Say I'm In Love from Rob Bond on Vimeo.

#55. "Belle" from Notre-Dame de Paris. As I was relistening to it this time to write up something about it, I couldn't help exclaiming out loud, "THIS SONG IS SO BEAUTIFUL." And it really, really is. It's a dark, haunting melody sung by some incredible voices and all I want to do is just close my eyes and listen to it. Every so often I decide I absolutely have to post this on my Facebook wall because for some reason, not everybody else loves it as much as I do. (?!) So here I shall post it here and try to make all of YOU love it.

#54. "Single" from The Wedding Singer. Oh, this song makes me super happy too, although for an entirely different reason than my #56. The cheerful cheesy 80s music perfectly complements the list of things that are better when you're single. Before I was a relationship, I absolutely adored this song, and after I was in a relationship... well, I still absolutely adore this song. How can you not? It's so much fun!

#53. "Nine Percent Chance" from High Fidelity. Yet another infectiously happy song. In this song, three men discover they have an extremely tiny possibility of getting something they really want... and then proceed to madly celebrate. Because, as they say in the song, "Sometimes all you need is a sliver of hope and you may just succeed - or at least the door's open. What once seemed impossible in there in your reach. You're riding the wave... or at least on the beach." No decent video of this, sadly, so here's the cast recording version.

#52. "Easy As Life" from Aida. Whoo. This song gets to me. In this song, Aida is choosing to give up the love of her life for the good of her people. I love that, especially for a forbidden love song, it isn't whiny or angsty, but straightforward in determining what she's going to do and acknowledging that, yeah, it sucks to have to do this, but she's been through worse.

#51. "Come Up To My Office" from Parade. A supremely creepy song about a group of young girls accusing a man of propositioning them. It's hard to explain why I like it so much. It's so creepy and dark and disturbing, and I love the build from slow and mellow to a much more frenetic pace, indicating the growing danger. Just an incredible song. Couldn't find any videos I liked, so here's the Broadway cast recording. Also, um, if you go to the YouTube video page, a comment of mine is one of the top comments. Apparently I watched this video a few years ago and needed to gush about Brent Carver.

Guys... We're halfway there. And it's only taken me like twice as many weeks as it should have. Maybe this is a series I'll finish after all before I run out of steam!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chats From the Past

Sorry I didn't return on Monday as I said I would. I slept for 12 hours on Monday instead. It was a long weekend. A good one, but a long one.

While I was visiting Jacob in Indiana, I had no Internet, so when he was off at work I watched a lot of movies and downloaded TV... and also did some digging through old computer documents. One of the things I found was a series of old AIM chat logs with my good friend Sarah, from back when I was 18 or so. Sarah is one of those people whose sense of humor often perfectly coincides with mine, and some of these chats made me laugh so hard that I knew I had to share them with you guys.

I present... Sarah and Hannah, circa 2005.

The Feud Between Sarah and Singer Lauren Kennedy

Sarah: I do have something against Lauren Kennedy though. She told me I could mail her the liner notes to her CD and she'd autograph them. I sent them to her and still have not gotten them back from her
Me: Maybe she lost her liner notes and needed some to keep.
Me: The least she could do then, though, is send you an autographed picture or something.
Sarah: Yeah seriously
Me: Heh
Me: Or better yet
Me: Show up at your house and sing an original song for you called "Thank You For the Liner Notes, I Hope It's Okay I Stole Them"

Unusual Song Choices
Me: Hazard a guess what my 6th-most-played song is on iTunes.
Sarah: Hmmm
Me: The top 5 are all from Music & Lyrics.
Me: LOL.
Sarah: LOL
Me: The 7th is "Come Up To My Office" from Parade.
Me: Shiksa Goddess is 11th for some reason.
Me: And number six is.........
Sarah: Dang, I was gonna guess SG
Me: The "Kanine Krunchies" jingle from the movie 101 Dalmatians.
Sarah: LOL!!!!!
Sarah: ExcUse me??
Me: Why? I don't know!
Sarah: Over Shiksa Goddess????
Sarah: Sadness
Sarah: *goes to check what her most played song on Itunes is*
Sarah: Goodness. Whatever. Mine is "The Aba Daba Honeymoon" so who am I to talk??

Speaking French
(Sarah was going to be visiting me shortly)
Me: And if ye want you can come to my music appreciation and French classes in the morning. Heh. Twill be exciting stuff *nod*
Sarah: Aah and then I can sit back and feel so happy that *I* no longer have to study french *grins*
Me: Indeed
Me: But you can't give it up entirely
Sarah: LOL
Me: And it's possible that I may offer Adam to you and you won't know what I'm saying and you'll be all like "No thank you" and then I'll be like "bwahahahaHAHAHA I win".
(Adam = Adam Pascal, a celebrity we both liked very much. I had claimed him as my celebrity boyfriend at the time.)
Sarah: LOL!!
Sarah: I'll have to listen very carefully if I hear a sentence with the word "Adam" in it
Me: Ah well I'll have to be sneaky then
Sarah: If I do then I'll just say "J'adore Adam" to play it safe...

Save the Last Snooky
Sarah: LOL I totally agree with your Save the Last Dance review... that's exactly the way it impressed me
Sarah: Except we call it "Save the last Snooky"
Me: Heh. Good to see we're on the same page
Me: LOL!
Me: Snooky?
Sarah: Yeah one of the character's is called that, and Naomi kept thinking a bunch of the characters were him cause she couldn't distinguish him
Sarah: "Oh THAT one is Snooky! No, No wait..."
Sarah: *snookies
Sarah: Actually is the name 
Me: LOL I forgot him
Sarah: Naomi couldn't figure out the plot and for some reason she thought he was the villian
Sarah: Cause he has maybe one scene

The Best Hymn of All Time
Sarah: Our church here is just.... wow.
Sarah: :-D
Me: "wow" meaning....?
Me: ;-)
Sarah: Once we sang a "hymn" called: "Lutheran Women One and All"
Sarah: =-O
Me: *cracks up*
Me: Were the men allowed to sing
Me: ?
Sarah: LOL Yes they were supposed to! Isn't that.... odd?
Sarah: My Dad just closed the song book and stared at the ceiling during that song
Me: We were singing "Here I Am To Worship" this week (a REALLY popular modern worship song)
Me: which is actually a pretty decent song
Sarah: Haven't heard/sung it
Me: But there's this one part that goes "And I'll never know how much it cost / To see my sin upon that cross"
Me: And I started thinking about it...
Me: It didn't cost ANYONE to SEE the sin 
Sarah: LOL!!
Sarah: *cracks up*
Me: And the "I" of the song certainly didn't see it
Me: It cost something to get the sin THERE. Seeing it has nothing to do with it.
Sarah: Hmmm... and I thought "Lutheran Women, coast to coast, we are indeed a might host" was a pretty bad rhyme
Me: *cracks up*
Sarah: Makes them sound like locusts
Sarah: :-D
Sarah: brb just a sec
Me: okee
Sarah: I have returned. Stronger and more powerful then ever before *nods*
Me: It's because you are a LUTHERAN WOMAN
Sarah: LOL!!!
Me: lol
Sarah: *cracks up*
Sarah: /flex
Me: But do the men get to sing anything?
Me: about themselves, that is
Sarah: You know you are right... I don't think there is a "Lutheran Men" song
Sarah: Pretty sexist if you ask me
Me: "Lutheran men stand proud and tall, don't sing that other song at all."
Sarah: LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sarah: You could write hymns for our church Hannah!!
Me: I could indeed *grin*
Me: "Lutheran women have their songs, but we don't have to sing along"
Sarah: LOL!!!!!!!!
Sarah: You have the gift!
Me: "We are mighty, we are great, all you people celebrate"
Sarah: *cracks up* You want to know what the really sad thing is? That really sounds legit *grins*
Me: "Wait a minute, I don't see - why're we singing about ME?"
Me: :-P
Sarah: LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sarah: I like this song
Me: "Why is God not in these hymns? So much for the Lutheran men."
Sarah: LOL!!!!!! BRILLIANT!
Me: You should sing that next time you go
Sarah: *applaudes*
Sarah: Seriously should Lol
Me: I think I've improved it
Me: at least God makes an appearance now
Sarah: *laughs* That's right!
Sarah: It's not a hymn to ourselves like "Lutheran Women one and all"