Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 20-11

As promised, I shall be finishing up the top 100 showtunes blogs this week. Today, we're counting down #20-11, and on Friday will be my top 10 of all time!

#20. "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors. This has been one of my very favorite Broadway love songs for years. It's quirky and offbeat like the rest of the show, and though I also found the Hunter Foster/Kerry Butler version on YouTube (which is vocally much better), I still just really like this version, as the characters are both a little less... normal. It's such a sweet song, and as someone who's always had a thing for the friendzoned underdogs in movies, it's very fun for me in the context of the show to Audrey finally realizing that Seymour's an awesome guy.

#19. "This Is the Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde. Even Leslie Bricusse's terrible lyric-writing skills (seriously, has he ever written anything halfway decent?) don't detract much from this song, because far more than the lyrics, it's about the soaring triumphant melody. Cheesy? Absolutely. Do I love it? HECK YEAH. I don't care who sings it, this song just makes me feel like going out and conquering life.

#18. "Memory" from Cats. Apparently this is Cheesy Ballad Day here on the blog... I've been tired of this song for a little while, so I don't listen to it much on my own, but every time I sit down and really do listen to it, I find myself very moved by it once again. It's such a beautiful tune and I love the imagery of just waiting for the sunrise because everything looks a little less awful in the morning. (Totally identify. Sleepless depressed nights are the worst.)

#17. "Love Is My Legs" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Heh. And here's the balance to all the cheesy ballads. This song is the cheesiest of all of them, but it's supposed to be parody, so it's awesome. At this point in the show, Freddy (played in this clip by the incredible Norbert Leo Butz) is trying to win a bet that he can get Christine (Sherie Rene Scott) to sleep with him. He's pretending to be stuck in a wheelchair, though there's nothing wrong with his legs - he claims it's all due to a psychologically traumatizing incident with a former girlfriend. In this song, he goes to Christine and proclaims that he loves her so much, she has given him the strength to walk again as long as she loves him back. What follows is a hilariously over-the-top duet between the two with ridiculous lyric after ridiculous lyric. My favorite (probably) is Christine's verse: "Faith are the toes attached to your feet, so I'll be your feet completely, always there to strive in your socks, alive in your socks, no longer dejected, two feet resurrected, connected to legs - which is love!"

#16. "Letting Go" from Long Story Short. Like most of the songs from Long Story Short, there are no YouTube videos for this, and, to my dismay, it has been removed from the Brendan Milburn/Valerie Vigoda music site, so there is absolutely no way for you to hear this song unless you hear it from the copy I have. Let me assure you, it's astonishingly beautiful.

It comes at the very end of the show, which follows a couple through their lifetime. In this song, the wife is sick and dying, and the two of them sing together about their life. His section focuses on the unfairness of having to let her go, and in her section she sings of her love for him and how happy she's been with her life ("Look at what I got to do - I got to spend the best years of my life, for better for worse, as your friend, as your wife"). It's one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and should possibly even be higher on this list because it is impossible for me to listen to it without being deeply moved. If you ever want to hear this song, shoot me a message and I'll happily send you a copy, because everyone should hear it.

#15. "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Ah, and here we have our first non-ballad of the day. Norbert was truly incredible in this role (I got to see him perform it in New York) and I have to admit, it might be unfair for me to put it up so high on the list because I'm pretty sure I love it almost entirely because of him. But either way, the song is fun. It's got fun lyrics, entertaining music, and is a great addition to the show. It's just a blast.

#14. "Nobody Needs to Know" from The Last 5 Years. Um. So apparently it's also Norbert Is Awesome Day. This song is one of the most heartbreaking showtunes ever written. It's written from the point of view of a man who is cheating on his wife, and it does an incredible, incredible job of simultaneously showing that he's doing a terrible thing and making you sympathize with him because he knows he's doing a terrible thing and isn't sure exactly how everything went so wrong. The lyrics are brilliant. Jason Robert Brown is a genius. I was watching this so I could write about it, and I kept yelling out loud, "THIS SONG IS SO SAD." Heh. I've embedded the live video of Norbs singing it, but it's really hard to understand the words, which are crucial, so check out this video of the audio from the cast recording as well.

#13. "I Love You Because" from I Love You Because. AHHHH. That's a good "AHHHH." I can't listen to this song without crying a little bit. It just reaches out to me on a very deep level. I think there's something absolutely beautiful about the idea behind it: "It's easy to say I love you anyway, but I don't - I love you because." It feels like a very real, very honest, and certainly very lovely love song, and it easily deserves its spot in my top 20.

#12. "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar. This is a song that hits very close to home for me. When I was younger, I didn't like this song at all and thought of it as being blasphemous, but in recent years, I've come to really love it, and I think it might be closer to Jesus' Gethsemane experience than we might think. There are still a few moments that I feel go a bit too far, but not nearly as many as there used to be. I've always been much more moved by Jesus' emotional turmoil in Gethsemane than I have his physical suffering on the cross, and this song portrays it in a way that is beautifully easy to identify with. I think sometimes the Christian church is scared to assign Jesus any negative emotions because somehow that means sin, but I love that this song includes Jesus being scared, reluctant, even angry about what he has to do next, while still, in the end, agreeing to do what he must do despite all of that.

#11. "I Feel So Much Spring" from A New Brain. Oh, this song. I have posted about it on my blog a time or two before. It's a relatively new discovery to be jumping into my top 11, but it totally deserves it. For me, this song captures perfectly the feel of suddenly realizing I'm not depressed today. In general, it's about coming out of something dark and awful and seeing something good for the first time in a long time and how just... good that feels. Every time I hear this, I just want to close my eyes and listen and cry and rejoice. Because that's what it's about.

Finishing this series up on Friday! Whooooo!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Posts From the Past: The Saga of Girl Who Has Unrequited Love For Boy...With Lots of Spaces

Originally posted August 18, 2008. For a while I did this thing where I made fun of the terribly dramatic stories people posted on MySpace all the time. Then I stopped using MySpace and all that tapered off. I may have to repost some of them here, because they were hilariously awful. Here is one of them. Comments in bold are my snarky comments.

Girl: Hey.

A long time later, according to the thousands of pauses...
Boy: What?
Girl: I really like you. And I... I think I'm falling in love with you.

Another long pause...
Boy: Ok...
Girl: What do you mean "ok"?
Boy: I don't like you like that...
Girl: Why not?
Boy: "I don't know. None can tell where and who love will strike." I can't tell you... maybe another time... "When I've figured out a good excuse."
From then on, the girl kept asking the boy "Why not?" whenever she saw him, because THAT'S the way to prove to him you're an amazing person and not an annoying twerp and he kept answering the same answer of "I'll tell you later. To which she always responded, "Is it later yet? Huh? Huh? Is it later yet?"

Years later...
Finally the girl got fed up.

Girl: I'm tired of this! Tell me why you don't like me!
Boy: Do you really wanna know why?
Girl: Yes!
Boy: It's because you're uglier than ****! He was going to tell her this later? When did he think would be a good time for this? What's the point of going out with someone when they're not pretty?! Hello, Monsieur Shallow.
Girl: But... I...
Boy: Just shut up and leave me alone! (Knowing he loved her to but was afraid of what his friends would think) WHAT THE. I hate it when people do this in bulletins. I suppose people do it in real life, too. And I hate that as well.
The boy leaves and the girl is sitting there alone, crying her heart out. Then her cell phone rings

Note all the time indicating she's picked up the phone.
Girl: Hello?
Mom: Sweetheart? I want you to go home, ok? "I don't want you to stay infinitely wherever you are." I'll be home from work in a few hours.

She deliberates...
Girl: Alright Mom. Well, at least it was the Alright Mom. The Not-So-Cool Mom wouldn't have even bothered to call.

Mom: I love you.
Awww. That's Alright Mom, all right!

Girl: I love you too, Mom.

Mom: Bye Bye.

Presumably this was where the girl got "Bye Bye Bye" stuck in her head, or perhaps "Bye Bye Blackbird," and was singing it softly in her mind as she debated how much energy she wanted to spend on angsting herself to death.

Girl: Bye
Meanwhile, Alright Mom's on the other end of the phone wondering why in the world it took Girl so long to say bye.
The girl heads home and once she got there, she went in the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror.

What do YOU think Girl looked like? Draw your own picture here! Don't forget to color her hair!

Girl: I'm not pretty enough...
She set to work, knowing fully well what she was going to do. I'm glad she didn't set to work, having no idea what she was going to do. That frequently leads to chaos.



Two hours later, her mom came home and heard the bath water running.
Oh, boy. Here it comes.

She walks v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y up the stairs...

She went upstairs to find the hallway flooded so she knocked on the door.
"Dear? Have you realized you flooded the hallway?"
"Why, no, Mother. Thank you for letting me know this."
Sheesh. I would have just barged in. For pete's sake, if the hallway's flooding, something's terribly wrong.

Mom: Honey? Are you alright?
She opened the door and was shocked at the site. It was a website dedicated to flooding hallways! Alright Mom would never have guessed her little Girl could be involved in something so nefarious! The bath was overflowing onto the floor, and the water was tinted red. She walked over to see what was inside and screamed. There, her little girl was lying with cuts all over her face and wrists. Her Mom backed away and was going to run to call the police Don't bother dragging her out of the water or anything when something caught her eye.

What was it? OH PLEASE TELL ME!

On the mirror were these words written in blood: "Am I pretty enough now?" That's a lot of blood to write that entire sentence. And yet she still had strength to walk over to the bathtub, turn it on (maybe it was on already) and calmly lie down in it to drown.
No one deserves to be told that by someone they love. I agree. Nobody deserves to be asked if they're pretty enough now. If you find it messed up then forward this to everyone you know. What counts is their heart inside of them and their personality. And whether they forward MySpace bulletins. No one wants to be told they're not good enough... So please don't make the author of this bulletin feel like they wrote something insubstantial!
Repost this in five minutes, saying, "NO GIRL DESERVES TO BE TOLD THIS" or something bad will happen to you tomorrow Ah, if I could count the deaths I'm supposed to die because of not reposting things...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Posts From the Past: Evaluating Movies For Children

Originally posted July 25, 2007.

I found the most insanely awesome movie evaluation site the other day. You know, like, where it talks about whether or not movies are suitable for children? I always enjoy browsing through those because although some of the things they list I agree with (profanity and violence and so on), some mention some VERY odd things as "objectionable." For example, screenit's review of Rent states "It's possible the film could inspire some kids to break into song and/or dance." OH HORROR!

Anyway. This other site takes points away from movies for some very bizarre things. A few examples:
-Dog attack. (Not a particularly gory one, it's just the fact that a dog attacks someone.)
-Confessions of murders to a lawyer. (This is listed under the "violence/crime" category. You'd think they'd ENCOURAGE confessing the murders you've committed...)
-Massive tattoos. (Little ones would've been okay, but these are HUGE!)
-The phrase "I want to die." (Erm. Okay.)
-Serious lack of concern for the condition of a teacher impaled with an arrow. (This cracks me up because it's so specific. "Now, children, when our teachers are impaled with arrows, we must all remember to show appropriate amounts of concern!")
-Uncounted deaths. (Counted deaths would've been fine, but we're certainly not going to see a movie where they lose track of them!)
-Gross examination of a dog to determine its gender. (This is one of the reasons they objected to 101 Dalmatians.)
-Humans sent into baking oven. (Okay, there are no words for how funny I find this. For the same reason the impaled teacher was funny. "Oh no! This might teach our children that it's okay for them to try and bake us!")

But the best one of all:

"laughing and crying at the same time with screaming in a mad frenzy, repeatedly."

For "American Pyscho."

If you're wondering whether it's appropriate for your child, I *don't* think that's going to be what makes the final decision for you.

"Nudity... no problem. Harsh language... fine with me. Violent murder... no big deal. Oh, but wait... there's also laughing and crying at the same time with screaming in a mad frenzy! REPEATEDLY! Well, that does it, my child is *not* seeing that!"

I'm all for letting people know what's in these movies so they can decide whether they are comfortable seeing or having their child see it... but, really. Some of these are goooofy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Posts From the Past: A Collection of Tiny Posts

Originally posted in 2006 and 2007. These tiny mini blogs on Xanga were the equivalent of Facebook statuses.

We were informed today in Brit Lit that chimney sweepers had to be very thin because chimneys were so narrow. "Sometimes they were only seven feet by nine feet." I don't know all that many people who are seven feet wide. About three minutes later, my instructor stops and says, "Wait. Maybe I got those numbers wrong."


I forgot to post this when it happened.

I think it was yesterday morning, Micah (who is seven) was playing with the kids and thought Elizabeth was cheating. He accused her of cheating, and she denied it, and it went back and forth. Finally he says, very coldly, "Well, if you want to believe in this fantasy of yours, then you'll have to find someone else to play with," and leaves.

...What seven-year-old says that?!


Just discovered in a paper I'm writing, after spell check marked one of the words as not existing:

"Because of this, he was forced to free Flance."

It didn't think Flance was a word. How silly. Clearly, it's the name of the person Jean-Jacques Rousseau was forced to free. He had kidnapped Flance and kept him locked up in his house, but after Rousseau wrote papers that the government didn't like, they told him that his punishment was to let Flance go. They'd kind of been turning a blind eye to it up to that point, since Rousseau was a highly respected individual.

It's not certain, either, but there are suspicions that Rousseau did not die a natural death, but that Flance actually tracked him down in his old age and murdered him. This would make Flance a key figure in Rousseau's life in yet another way.

Flance is also credited with having inspired Rousseau's ideas. Rousseau was just a quiet, mild-mannered, traditional kidnapper until Flance gave him all sorts of radical ideas. He decided to write some of them up, and when those papers began winning prizes, he decided, "Ah, yes, that works. I guess I should believe in this system if I am to write more," and so he did, and he did, and Flance remained uncredited until Rousseau's autobiography was discovered. People were shocked to learn that much of Rousseau's early work was actually almost taken down from dictation from Flance's ramblings in the locked closet.

......I think this paper would be much more fun to write than the real one.


I woke up this morning with "Let's Misbehave" stuck in my head. Why? Don't know. Didn't bother to really ask, because the bigger question was why my mind insisted on singing these lines:

When you get up to drink a cup of warm ambrosia
Ten days of nausea
Let's misbehave

What? What, what? WHAT?


My art professor this morning was talking about older depictions of the Virgin Mary, and how they often showed her surrounded by angels or apostles, except I thought he said "opposums."


Bethany just found a note that Joel wrote a few months ago when he was planning to run away. It read, "Bye Micah and Seth. Beat the DS game. Love, Joel."


Just so everyone knows, the computer chairs for the computers by the admissions office... are horrible. I sit down in them and the computer desk literally comes up to my neck.


Mom informed me that now that Nathan is 18, he has to register with the Secret Service. This confused me until I realized she meant Selective Service.


Overheard today:

Art teacher: If you're only a few points away from making a specific grade, I'll give you the opportunity to earn it. You won't be able to go from a D to an A, but you can go from a D to a C, or an A to a B.


I just woke up from my "didn't get any sleep last night so slept in the middle of the afternoon" nap. Apparently I'd been sleeping with my arms up behind my head so when I got up, my arms started wildly flailing and going all over the place. It was rather creepy. Heh. They weren't just going up, they were FLAILING.


This afternoon at lunch, the whole extended family is sitting around the table, and my Uncle David starts singing "We Are the Champions" because it came up for some reason. His four-year-old son came up to him and solemnly announced, "I have three Not-Sings. Number one, no singing while I'm eating. Number two, no singing while I'm sleeping. Number three, no singing while I'm watching a movie."


I just saw an ad on MySpace that said, "There may be an active, live infection under your fingernail. Click the wheel to see how it can grow." Oh, boy. Doesn't THAT sound pleasant?


*cracks up*

And THIS is why I do not read romance, Christian or otherwise. I just came across this sentence in a (boring) book I'm reading.

"The clock of love slowed yet more."

...And I died laughing.


This morning/night I was reading a book and was suddenly confronted with the sentence: "Snorting, he lunged a forkful of hay into the stable." It was a frustrated stable boy or something. Now that's a pretty ludicrous sentence, but it becomes a thousand times more ludicrous when you read the verbs backwards and think it says "Lunging, he snorted a forkful of hay into the stable."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Posts From the Past: A Conglomeration of Posts About Seth

Originally posted on my Xanga - remember those, guys? - from 2006-2008. Seth would have been like... seven at the oldest, four or five at the youngest. He had gained a reputation with my online friends for being... an entertaining child.

So today Mom was playing with him and asked, "Who are you?"

He responded, "I am Seth M-----. Your son."

Mom: "Yeah? Prove it!"

He looks at her with disdain and says, "Where do you think proof comes from? Everywhere? Well, it doesn't!"

Take that, Mom.


My aunt had posted a blog about some knock-knock joke their adopted daughter had told. She is now... oh, I forget how old. 3 or 4. (Seth said she was 3, but I am not sure if this is true.) They mostly consisted of classic knock knock jokes where she had switched punchlines with another joke, or accidentally told it all backward.

When we told several of these jokes to Seth, he laughed heartily and then said, "That's a common mistake for a three-year-old!"

The expert has spoken.


I hung out with Mom this afternoon as she was working through Seth's reading book with him. They were working on a particular exercise where he was shown a picture of an object, then the last half of the word with the first two letters missing -- all pairs of consonants. (__unk for "skunk," __oon for "spoon," etc.)

He gets to "__uirrel" and figures out that it's "squirrel," so he suggests "SK" or "SC" for the opening letters. Mom says, "Actually, no, this is a tough one. It's SQ."

He gets a look of complete disgust on his face and goes, "WHATEVER!" After a moment, he realizes he's not allowed to say that to Mom, so he goes, "I'm sorry. I meant... THAT'S CRAZY!"

It took a few moments to convince him that "squirrel" does have a Q in it.

He had a massive giggling fit as well when he accidentally said "G" when he meant "R" and ended up trying to make the word "fgog." He laughed about that for about a minute and a half before he finally calmed down. Then, a few exercises later, he piped up: "Remember that time when I said 'fgog' instead of 'frog'?"


We went Christmas shopping today. We went to The Dollar Tree, because when my family buys gifts for each other, this is where we go due to pretty much having no money.

Dad had wandered around with Seth, helping him pick out gifts for all of us. Everyone's gifts had been picked except for Dad's, so I volunteered to help with that present. Wouldn't want Dad to see it.

Seth asks, "What should I get Dad?"

"I don't know," I say. "I know he really loves burnt peanuts. Let's see if there are any in the candy aisle."

We go and, no, there aren't, so I get ready to turn around the next corner and see if there's anything else Dad might like, but Seth is still transfixed by the candy aisle. "Should I get him a ring pop?" he asks solemnly.

"I don't know if Dad likes ring pops."

Seth nods and says, "Well, then I won't. Since we're not sure."

In the next aisle: "Should I get him this?" He holds up a Pirates of the Caribbean night light.

"Seth, that's a night light."

"Oh. Should I get him a flashlight?"

"Let's find something else, okay?"

This happens for another several minutes. Finally Seth comes to the end of an aisle where there are glow sticks and swords that apparently also work like glow sticks. "Should I get Dad a glow sword?" he asks.

I sigh. "Seth, just go ahead and get Dad whatever you want."

He thinks for a moment, then says, "Okay. I'll get the glow sword."

So my father's getting a plastic sword for Christmas. But at least it glows.


Seth is amazing.

He was yelling "NO!" at Nathan, and we told him to stop, and he says, "I was just quoting from Hairspray!" We asked him what part of Hairspray that was in, and he said, "I won't tell you." Mom said, "Then I don't know if I can  believe you." He very solemnly responds with, "To believe... or not to believe. That is the question."

You know you have a well-read family when your seven-year-old sibling starts quoting Shakespeare, even if it's slightly skewed.


Seth has been doing some writing lately. I love his plots.

This is one he wrote by dictating to us what he wanted to say. I figured it should be preserved here for posterity.

Axle and Seth

        Seth was wandering in a place and a man with boxing gloves jumped off a stone wall and Seth knew that he was one of the dangerous ones.  He was about to hit Seth when another guy jumped behind the man with boxing gloves and punched him in the back.

Seth asked, “What is your name?”

And the man said, “My name is Axle.  I have come to help you save your uncle.  You must follow me and come to my camp.  Let’s go.  My camp is in the place with the dangerous fog of doom but you should not worry, I have the doom ring which will protect us from the fog.”

Seth said, “How are we going to get there?  I heard it is the fifth labyrinth and we are only in the first labyrinth?  And the labyrinths take five miles to get to the next?  And we are only at the beginning of the first.”

Axle said, “I have the warp ring so we can warp past the other number 2, 3, and 4 right to number 5.  This is the warp ring.”

Seth says, “Ooh, cool.  It is awesome looking.  Why does it show a man’s face?”

Axle said, “I do not know why it has a man’s face on it.  But let’s just hold hands so you can warp with me.  Now I will blow on it and we will warp. And we have to say which labyrinth we want to go to.  Okay, hold my hand.  I want to go to labyrinth 5.”  Axle blows on the warp ring.  There was a big flash of light and they were gone.

They were in the dangerous fog of doom and Axle had the doom ring and they walked for ten minutes and they found the fort and Axle asked Seth if he was good at any weapons. And Seth said, “Yes, I am good at a sword. I defeated the Ice Ghost with it. I might need two, because I think that there is actually quite a lot of danger around here, really strong danger that I would need an extra sword because my first one would probably break.”

“Okay, I have a hundred swords in the sword room. Why don’t we take two extra? Because we’re going to fight the most dangerous enemy around here. The one that rules all the others. I have tons of men in the upstairs cabin.”

And Seth said, “There’s another cabin upstairs?”

And Axle says, “Yes. There is five flights.”

Seth says, “That is unbelievable. How can the inside be five flights taller than the outside?”

“Want us to go and try to defeat the monster now?”

And Seth said, “Okay. I also defeated the highest boss with only one sword.”

“Okay. Let’s run. It’ll take five minutes walking, one minute running. We must get there really fast or else it will just eat that whole place and get much stronger and will just cream us. So we must go now and defeat it as fast as we can.”

“Okay, let’s go!”

They were in a haunted mansion. At least, people thought it was haunted. But it was not haunted at all, except for it did have the enemy to rule them all. They saw it and Axle said to himself, “This will be awesomely hard.” And then Axle jumped up and punched and he tried a superpunch and it just bounced right off. And Seth saw that it was metal, and he saw the weakness, and he said, “Axle! Take out the doom ring! I see in the back that it says the doom ring can turn it into normal skin, and then you will be able to, like, kill it much easier! And I also see that my uncle’s in it!”

“Okay, let’s go and defeat it!”

Axle tossed the doom ring and it hit it right in the face and got stuck in it and the doom ring actually grew really big and turned it all into normal skin, and Seth jumped up and cut it into tiny little pieces and defeated it.

The End


Seth has taken to adding stuff to message he's supposed to deliver.

A few weeks ago, he was supposed to tell me lunch was ready. What he told me: "Lunch is ready. It's chicken salad. Mom says you probably won't like it, but you can try it anyway."

A day or two later, he was supposed to tell me that Mom wanted to know if I wanted to watch a movie with her. What he said: "Mom says she's going to watch a movie and you have to come downstairs now, or else you're going to be in trouble."

And then today, he was again supposed to tell me lunch was ready, and it was pizza. What he said: "Lunch is ready. It's pizza. And pasta. But I don't think we have any sauce."

I guess he doesn't think they're interesting enough on their own.


Me: Nathan, have you heard of "Sonic: Time Attacked" or something like that?
Nathan: No.
Me: It's a fan-made game. Apparently Dr. Robotnik goes back in time and.... (*my mind blanks out*)
Seth: And you probably see his underwear! Hahahahaha, I'm just kidding!

Where did THAT come from?

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Am Not the Awesome Blogger I Hoped to Be

I was going to be so cool, guys.

I was going to write all these awesome blogs to be posted automatically over the next week, while I was off in Indiana visiting Jacob.

But then I didn't. For various reasons - it's been a tough week both physically and emotionally, and I just couldn't ever find it in me to write like five blogs at a time.

I do have some stuff for you, though, though I didn't write it fresh for you guys. :-)

What I have done is found old, pre-Blogspot blogs and I will be reposting those for you throughout the next week, through Monday the 27th. (I'll be back by then, but I'll have JUST gotten back, and, no, I won't be ready to write anything.) And then, since it'll have been three weeks since you got a Top 100 Showtunes post, and since we only have two left, my goal is to finish off the series on Wednesday the 29th and Friday the 31st.

Anyway. I hope you enjoy reading Posts From the Past this next week. I enjoyed finding them. I'll be back with a real blog in a couple weeks.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Funniest Movies I Know

So I talked about happy movies. And I talked about funny YouTube videos. So now it's time to talk about funny movies.

Watching a really, really funny movie can be absolutely wonderful. My sense of humor is a little hard to pin down, so my list is kind of eclectic, but these movies all get my vote for some of the funniest movies ever made.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and Waiting For Guffman (1996). Two great mockumentaries featuring the hilarious Christopher Guest, who directed the second one. These movies get funnier the more I watch them. The characters are entertaining and colorful, and every line is just perfect. I still think the Stonehenge scene from Spinal Tap is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and when we finally see the show they've been working on in Waiting For Guffman, it's hilariously awful.

Noises Off (1992). My friend Sam recommended this to me as one of the funniest movies he'd ever seen. About half an hour in, I was like, "Eh, this is pretty entertaining." An hour in, I was like, "This is funny." And an hour and a half in, I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. It's got a great cast and ends up being truly, truly hilarious.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2003). This movie is a parody of old sci-fi B-movies, and it absolutely hits the spot for me. The dialogue is hilariously stilted, so many great 1940s sci-fi cliches are included, and, while some jokes go on a little too long, it's still one of the movies that makes me laugh every time I see it.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). I love Monty Python, and this is definitely my favorite of all of their movies. It's absurd and silly and ridiculously fun. Just like their sketch show, not every moment works, but a whole lot of it does, and it's one of those movies that is almost as fun to quote afterwards as it is to actually watch.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). Let's throw a classic in here. This movie is best to watch without knowing the plot, as there's a really entertaining twist about 30 minutes in. It's all a little over-the-top and crazy, but the characters are delightful, and Cary Grant is great fun as the extremely stressed-out hero.

Other very funny movies that I recommend but don't love quite well enough to write a blurb about:
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
Tootsie (1982)
Emma (1996)
Back to the Future trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)
Airplane! (1980)
In Bruges (2008)
Take the Money and Run (1969)
The Full Monty (1997)
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Better Off Dead (1985)
Seven Psychopaths (2012)

What are your picks? What are the funniest movies you've ever seen?

Monday, May 13, 2013

When Does Arguing Cross a Line?

Those of you who know me know that I love debating and arguing. I love talking to people with opinions I disagree with, figuring out why they have those opinions, sharing my own thoughts, and trying to lure people over to my way of thinking. But in pursuit of happiness this month, I have been trying to argue less. I feel arguing can either take the form of a good, refreshing debate, or an actual fight. The lines have gotten blurred for me lately, and I want to try and straighten them out.

So where are the lines? When does arguing bring me great joy, and when does it bring me distress?

I think these are the things that can make arguing delightful for me. When these are gone, it becomes frustrating rather than fun.

1. Respect for each other's intellectual capacity and integrity. I don't like to argue with people who I truly don't respect intellectually or who don't respect me. There's not even any point to it. It just devolves into someone being very condescending to someone they think is less intelligent than them.

2. Respect for each other's moral capacity and integrity. I don't like to argue with people who I don't think are good people. I don't know anybody who outright thinks I'm not a good person, but I wouldn't want to argue with them either. I have to trust that the other person wants to do the right thing, the loving thing, the just thing, even if we disagree on what that is.

3. True listening. This is a basic application of the Golden Rule. Just as I believe the things I have to say in this argument are valuable and would appreciate being heard, I want to extend that courtesy to whoever I'm listening to. This means no jumping to conclusions and really trying to process what they say before I jump to respond.

4. An end goal of understanding rather than agreement. If my main goal in arguing is to persuade rather than to listen, learn, and understand each other, I will nearly always be disappointed. Even if I never get the person I'm arguing with to agree with me, I feel a sense of accomplishment if I feel like I have learned something about them and how they think. Similarly, I feel accomplished when someone says, "I get your point. I don't agree with you, but I get what you mean now."

These four aspects make the process of arguing very enjoyable for me. As we're both laying out our opinions, even if we're voicing them strongly, this underlying current of respect and understanding can make an argument a joyful exchange of ideas rather than a fight.

So what makes an argument into a fight? Well, let's see what happens if you reverse or take away those four positive aspects:

1. Personal attacks. As soon as you start making attacks on the character, intelligence, or heart motivation of someone you are arguing with, you have devolved into a fight, and it is not going to end well.

2. Only sharing your own views and ignoring or dismissing the other's. If someone else does this to me, I simply back out of the conversation. If I'm doing it to someone else, I may not realize it at first, but I can usually tell as it goes on because it feels different. It feels unsatisfying.

3. The end goal is WINNING. If the drive to win gets really strong, anything that isn't a complete victory feels hollow. Sometimes if I'm in this mode, even convincing the other person isn't enough - they need to say, "I was wrong and you were right all along and I should have listened to you" for me to feel like it's an actual win. Which, of course, hardly ever happens.

I am trying to do a better job of knowing when I'm in the middle of an argument whether it is a debate or a fight. Too often what starts off as a debate devolves, and I am trying to learn when I need to simply walk away.

In the middle of my month/week/whatever of happiness, I've tried to stay away from arguing altogether to see how it affects me. I broke that rule several times this past week, and although it occasionally felt exhilarating to be in the middle of this constant back-and-forth of whirlwind debate, I always wished I hadn't afterwards. I'm going to try to pick that back up again this week, because the negativity and fighting I allowed into my life this past week took its toll on me, and I was mentally and emotionally exhausted all week long.

Friday, May 10, 2013

(Blog Business About Today's Post)

My regular top 100 showtunes post is being postponed (haha, get it? POSTponed? I am hilarious) until tomorrow. This has been a particularly stressful week and I haven't had the concentration or the time to get it written. Hopefully we'll be back in business tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Moments of Clarity

Every so often in my life, I will get a sudden moment of extreme clarity. A moment in which everything snaps into focus and for a second, I have no doubts, I have no questions, I am certain of something more than I ever have been in my life.

Several years ago (2006 maybe?), I was working with my youth group drama team. We were putting on a full play, and our leading lady had great acting talent vocally, but she looked... a little stiff up on the stage, especially whenever she had to interact with our leading man, who was playing her husband. It was a church play, so there was no kissing or anything, but there were occasional flirty interactions - an arm around the shoulder, a hug - and she got very awkward. I sympathized, but we were going to have to find an answer if this show was going to work.

With the permission of my co-directors, I took her aside whenever she wasn't in a scene and worked with her. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew we had to do something to loosen her up a bit. I made up some exercises that I thought might help her relax a bit on stage. We tried all kinds of different things, and I slowly started seeing a change. She did relax a bit, she looked better, and she sounded better.

On opening night, when I could no longer change anything, I just sat in the front seat watching, and I was amazed. She took everything we had worked on together and put it into practice. She was possibly the best, most natural-looking actor on stage that night. As I sat there, I suddenly got chills as I realized I had something to do with. My experimental exercises somehow made an actual, dramatic difference in how she did something.

And that's when I knew I wanted to teach theater.

I was traveling with the drama company, on a team full of people who liked to worship. I was growing more and more frustrated because I'd never been able to connect to God through worshiping with a group of people, no matter how hard I concentrated or how much I prayed.

One night, we were staying late at a church after the service was done. The pastor told us to lock the doors on our way out and essentially left us there, so we did some team worship time. We sang actual songs for about an hour, and then John just kept playing guitar and we ended up sort of scattering off to our own corners, quietly singing or praying or just sitting in silence.

During that time, I began praying and asking God why I couldn't do this. Why was I incapable of worshiping him? Was there something in my heart keeping me from him? Why, when we did these worship times, did I concentrate so hard and try so hard to hear from God and still just find myself waiting patiently until it was over and I could go back to whatever I was doing before?

I wouldn't say I've heard God speak to me very often, and certainly not this strongly, but I had a sudden revelation that I absolutely believe came from God. I felt like he was saying to me: "It's because I didn't create you to worship me that way. I created you to worship me through art."

And that's when I knew God not only supported my love for all things artistic, but encouraged it.

It was only a couple years ago that I started blogging again, and I ended up writing a lot about introversion on my blog. At one point, an acquaintance had recently dismissed those blogs, indicating that he didn't know why we couldn't just leave the whole introvert/extrovert debate alone - he never felt pressured to be one or the other and he felt like I was stirring things up for no reason. Although I tried to be gracious in my response to him, that stuck with me, and I ended up wondering once again if maybe I was just broken or overly sensitive in my response to these things.

Shortly after that interaction, I was hanging out with a group of friends. I struck up a one-on-one conversation with one of the girls. We chatted for awhile, and then she told me that my blogs about introversion had been very meaningful for her. She said she'd never really thought of herself as being all that introverted, but she connected with everything I'd said in my blogs, and that she was really encouraged by them, and that because of things I'd written, she was starting to realize that, no, she wasn't broken either. Just an introvert.

I don't think I cried when she told me all this, but I came really close.

And that's when I knew that my story was important and my story was making a difference.

I've had other moments of clarity besides these three I chose as examples - ones where I realized God really does love me, where I realized what true fellowship looks like, where I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the man I'm marrying in July.

For someone like me who is constantly reexamining her life and her opinions and her thoughts, remembering the moments of clarity is really important. They become the building blocks of the rest of my life. They are the things I know for certain, even if I no longer feel them. When I have a moment of clarity, I try to latch onto it and journal about it so I will remember it forever, so that even ten years from now when I have a day where I worry I've made all the wrong decisions in my life, I can look back at these moments and find some peace as I remember, no, these things are still true.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Movies I Saw in April

We take a quick break from Happiness Week or Month or whatever this is to sum up the 16 new movies I saw in April. From best to worst, here's what I watched.

Kolya (1996) - Usually I'm not much for "kid warms old man's heart" movies, but I was impressed by how non-sappy this one was.

Diabolique (1955) - Great mystery/thriller story, almost Hitchcockian in its feel and its slow build. Glad I finally got around to watching this one.

Divided We Fall (2000) - A wonderful Czech film with a fascinating cast of characters.

Hitchcock (2012) - As far as biopics go, this one is fun. It does a good job of really making Hitchcock a person rather than just a figure.

Premium Rush (2012) - Totally silly, totally fun.

Blow Out (1981) - Pretty typical 80s thriller, but well done and fun.

Videodrome (1983) - Fascinating concept and some great visuals, but the ending didn't really do anything for me.

Lincoln (2012) - For all the great people involved in this movie, it was surprisingly... monotone. There was absolutely nothing exciting in it at all. And there should have been.

Life of Pi (2012) - Meh. It's fine, and it looks lovely, but I'm irrationally bored by movies with animals in them.

Persona (1966) - I was far too frustrated by the fact that I couldn't tell what was physically happening in this movie to have any actual opinion on it.

The Conversation (1974) - I don't understand Francis Ford Coppola's directing style at all, but I have to admit it had a pretty cool ending.

Django Unchained (2012) - Not nearly as much Tarantino-esque dialogue as I like. I never realized how much I really count on that to mellow out the violence in his other films. This isn't as violent as Inglourious Basterds, but it felt more so.

Burn After Reading (2008) - The only reason to see this is for Brad Pitt.


Hotel Transylvania (2012) - A thoroughly uninspired and unfunny kids' flick. Not worth it.

The Long Goodbye (1973) - I think it might be time for me to give up on detective noirs. I haven't liked one since... ever.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Top 100 Showtunes: 30-21

#30. "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago. This song is a far cry from the rest of the show, a series of flashy, presentational songs about grasping for fame at any cost. This is by far my favorite song from the show, this quiet, sad lament about someone who never seems to make any kind of impression on anyone. John C. Reilly's version in the movie is poignant, lovely, and tragic.

#29. "Pity the Child" from Chess. Yes, it's a pretty emo song, but I have loved it for ages, for reasons that are hard to articulate. I love how the melody just keeps climbing and climbing as the lyrics get more and more bitter. Adam Pascal's version here is one of my favorites vocally. I'm trying to find a way to put into words why I love this song, but I'm not sure I can, so I shall just leave you the clip instead.

#28. "Fine, Fine, Fine" from Striking 12. There is not a single video of this song to be found on YouTube. I thought I'd found one with anime video clips over it, but it turns out they cut the entire bridge, which is kind of important. You can listen to the song + lyrics here on Groovelily's website. This song is an absolutely perfect representation of so very many experiences in my life... and why I withdraw further from social interaction when I'm having a tough time. Because otherwise, it goes like this.

#27. "Still Love" from Long Story Short. And... another song that is impossible to find on YouTube. Heh. So many of my favorite songs are difficult to locate. This song is by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (two of Groovelily's three members) from their demo for this show. It's sung from a wife to her husband near the end of their lives together, about how their love has changed and adapted as they've aged. I think it's perhaps the most beautiful and moving love song I have ever heard. (Frankly, the fact that it's not higher on this list is possibly a mistake.)

As I did with one of their other songs from this same show, I feel like I just have to quote the lyrics to communicate how much I love it. It's a long chunk because this whole second half of the song just breaks me.

Every so often I notice 
Your hair has a new strand of grey 
Can't remember if I've told you 
You still take my breath away 

If you don't hear so well, you can lean close when we're talking, am I right? 
If you don't walk so well, we can just sit here and kiss in the twilight 
And if we don't remember so much any more, we can dwell on the highlights 

We don't have to be exciting 
We don't have to run around 
We don't have to dance the night away 
We can be gentle 
We can be still 
You've always been gentle 
And I always will
Love you 
I still love you

#26. "For Now" from Avenue Q. If I were to choose a showtune that summed up my attitude toward life, this would probably be it. I take great comfort in the fact that my pain is temporary, and I work to enjoy and love what I have now because someday most of it, too, will be gone. That's part of this whole "happiness quest" projecty thing I've got going on right now. I'm surrounded by happy things, and if I learn to appreciate them, I may still be unhappy, but at least I'll be fully aware of the good things around me and maybe that'll help a little. Anyway, suffice it to say this cheerful little song is very important to me personally and has encouraged me many, many times.

#25. "Marry Me a Little" from Company. This song is incredible, and I love Raul Esparza's rendition of it. It's so sincere and yet so oblivious as to what relationships are. It latches beautifully onto the central theme of this whole show - the character's desire to have someone there to keep him company, but nobody who will demand anything or require any life changes. It's an especially beautiful contrast to one of the later songs in the show (which will show up later in this series, so I will certainly refer back to this song).

#24. "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady. Stalker song? Well, yes. But, guys, it's so pretty. And, frankly, easy to relate to. There is something beautiful about the way that love transforms everyday occurrences into exciting ones, and ordinary streets into "the street where you live." I think it's easily Lerner and Loewe's prettiest song. (My favorite version? Euan Morton from Broadway Unplugged 2. But that one is  not to be found anywhere. So the movie version will do just fine.)

#23. "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins. We're on a bit of a love song kick here, aren't we? Although if you thought "On the Street Where You Lived" and its stalker tendencies were creepy, you're really not going to like this one. The version I'm showing is from a Sondheim revue where the couple sings to each other (sung beautifully by John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall) but in the original version, it's John Hinckley Jr. singing to Jodie Foster and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme singing to Charles Manson... who attempted to assassinate the president for their love. I love this song because it sounds so pretty and lovely, and then you keep remembering what it's about and it takes on this delightfully creepy tone.

#22. "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q. Most of Avenue Q's best songs are cheery songs that, musically, sound like they'd be right at home on Sesame Street... but with not-so-family-friendly material. This song discusses how everybody has a little bit of racism in them and "if we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit and everyone stop being so PC, maybe we could live in harmony." The lyrics are silly, the music is fun, and for some reason I just really love the harmonies. I sing along with them way more than the actual melody. Here's a slightly condensed (and censored for language) version performed by the original cast on The View.

#21. "Fantasies Come True" from Avenue Q. OH gosh. This is a song that just... aaagh. It kicks me in the gut. Heh. It's got some comedic moments, but it's much less overtly funny than the show's other songs. The basic premise here is that someone thinks they've found out the person they love loves them back, only to find out at the end that it's not actually true. The whole song is spent celebrating and dancing and rejoicing... and then having to quietly squash hope back down again. This is a feeling I identify so strongly with, and this song manages to bring tears to my eyes every time I listen to it, ever since I first got into the show at the end of high school. It's one of those songs that completely tears me apart but it's hard to explain it. It just gets to me.

We only have two more weeks left. So many great songs this week... and twenty more to come!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Laughter As the Best Medicine

Laughter really has a healing quality for me, and so I keep track of the things that make me laugh. I have document after document on my computer of my favorite funny quotes from movies, friends, TV, and books, and whenever I need to, I just read through those.

I also keep my favorite funny videos in playlists on YouTube. So far I have over 500 videos saved among my various "LOL!" playlists, and even though I have seen most of them multiple times, they still make me laugh. What is included in these playlists?

Well... these kinds of things.

People Doing Strange Things

An Abundance of Monty Python Sketches

An Abundance of Whose Line Is It Anyway Sketches (I used to have more but they kept getting removed from YouTube)

An Abundance of A Bit of Fry and Laurie Sketches

Mash-Ups, Edits, and Re-Cuts

Music-Based Stuff

Japanese Ads, Which Are the Strangest Things Ever

Those Clips Where Weird Al Pretends To Interview Someone

Musical Madlibs

Way More Cute Kid Videos Than I Thought

Julian Smith

Things Going Wrong

Bad Lip Reading

The New State Plates series by Andrew Huang and Andrew Gunnarolla

A Bunch of Random Other Ones That Didn't Fit Any of Those Categories

Those are the highlights of my funny videos playlists. Still not all of them, as there are definitely a few that are probably only funny to me, so I've left those out. But this is the majority of the ones I've shown or wanted to show to other people. Hopefully at least some of these can cheer you up. I know they make me happy. Rewatching so many of them as I typed up this blog definitely brought a smile to my face.

(If you'd rather just watch all 28 hours, 52 minutes and 16 seconds of things I find hilarious in a row, here are the links to the playlists themselves, not organized in any way: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3.)