Finally found what I was looking for

A year-plus in the making, but we finally made it!

If you are reading this, you probably know how much I love U2, and what they have meant to me over the course of my life.

Last year I was talking with my friend (and fellow U2 fan) Tom, and he jokingly asked if I wanted to go out to Chicago over 4th of July weekend  to see U2, who were on their second leg of the 360 Tour. I thought about it for about five seconds, and then responded, “Uh…YES!” This was my chance to make up for missing them when they came to DC. I had debated and debated over getting tickets. Normally this wouldn’t have even been a question – of course I would go. But there was a lot going on at the time, and I am (very sadly) not a huge fan of their latest album, so it seemed to make good fiscal sense to sit that one out.

Then I made the mistake of reading reviews of the show, which were universally, overwhelmingly, positive, and had been kicking myself in the pants ever since.

So when this opportunity came up, I seized it. Tom got the U2 tickets, I got my plane ticket, and we waited for July 5th.

Then Bono broke his back and the concert was postponed until 2011. I still went out to Chicago, and instead of seeing Bono, I saw my college town and some old friends and ate Quatros Pizza.

While I was disappointed at the time, turns out it was all for the best. Fate and mysterious ways and all that. (See what I did there?)

Without getting into too much detail, I will just say that this has not been a good summer. It’s been stressful. So stressful that I was basically sick for the whole month of June. By the time July came around, what I needed more than anything was a break  – and not “stay-cation” style – I needed a break from my normal life and routine. I needed to not be on the East coast. Lucky for me, Bono broke his back last year and I had tickets to see U2 on July 5, 2011 in Chicago.

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Countdown to Christmas (Part 4 of 4)

 

Happy Holidays! Here is the final addition to my countdown to Christmas. Between moving over the weekend, and being super busy at work, I haven’t gotten to celebrate the season as I normally do. No tree or Christmas cookie making for me this year. So instead, I decided to take a look back at some of my favorite holiday-themed TV and movies. We’ve come to the end, and I’ve saved the best for last: Here are the creme de creme, my favorite of the favorites.

From Love Actually: I actually love (see what I did there?) this whole movie, and if I could I would post the whole thing here. But…you people have lives. So instead here is the famous airport scene. Makes me cry every time.

From The Office: They’ve done a lot of Christmas-themed episodes, but for me, nothing can top season three’s “A Benihana Christmas”. This is The Office at its finest. Michael is heartbroken, but not over the top annoying about it, just enough to still be funny. Jim tries (and fails) to be more serious at work. And of course, the dueling Christmas parties. What’s better than that? My personal favorite part of the show is where everyone does karaoke, but that cannot be found on the Internets. So instead, here’s a music video someone made summarizing the episode.

“Are we taking this too far? You know what, I don’t think we’re taking this far enough.”
“I just got chills.”
Awesome. Totally awesome.

From Scrooge: This musical version of the classic Dickens tale doesn’t get its due. Sure, not everyone likes musicals. But Albert Finney’s performance alone should garner some attention. If you haven’t seen this film, and you like musicals, check it out. You won’t be disappointed. And you just might cry. I know I do. For example…

From Frasier: They also did a handful of Christmas episodes, but season six’s “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskawitz” is my favorite by a mile. I’ve talked about it at length on this blog before, but man. Seeing Niles as Jesus will never not make me laugh. Plus the end has duel pay offs both with Mrs. Moskawitz finding Niles and the Christmas tree in the bathroom, and Frasier and Martin attempting to air their grievances.

Oh, man. Always, always funny.

From When Harry Met Sally: Technically this is New Year’s Eve, but the season is right. I think you have to be made of stone not to love this scene. This also umm…never fails to make me cry. (Do you see a pattern here?)

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Does it get any more romantic?

From The West Wing: Sorkin puts on a good Christmas show. We know this. I enjoy season four’s “Noel” quite a bit, but season one’s “In Excelsis Deo” remains my favorite West Wing episode to date. (But stay tuned; I haven’t finished the series yet). The part that really gets me is when poor Mrs. Landingham talks about missing her boys. But since that’s not online, here is the next best thing.

“Toby? I’d like to come” is almost as good.

And finally (drumroll please)…

From It’s A Wonderful Life: No man is a failure who has friends.

And that’s it! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Countdown to Christmas (Part 2 of ?): BING!

Happy holiday season, Internet. If you read my last entry, you know that, due to a hectic winter schedule, I’ve found it hard to get into the holiday spirit this year. In an attempt to capture some of that magic, I am sharing some of my favorite holiday moments in moves and television.

This entry is all about Bing. Bing Crosby. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

First up is the debut of the song White Christmas from the horribly racist  classic Holiday Inn.  

And while we’re at it, this has nothing at all to do with Christmas, but is my favorite dance in the horribly racist film.

Next up: White Christmas. (Which, FYI, is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. Yes, I am horribly cliched.) I basically love every song and performance in the film (with the exception of “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me”, which I KNOW is supposed to be cheesy, but man alive, I just can’t take it), so it’s hard to narrow down my favorites. The whole movie is awesome, go watch it.

Since “Mandy” is not available on YouTube, here’s the next best dance number from the film:

So, remember what I said about hating “Love” because it was so cheesy? Well…forget I said that for the next 49 seconds while you watch the next clip. Y’all, I’ve seen this movie probably every year of my life and I STILL tear up at this part.* Every damn year. Even though it’s totally cheesy.

*Also every year, I get mad at Emma for spying on Bob and telling Betty. I’ve seen the movie enough times, I know it’s coming, and I know it all works out in the end, but I STILL get mad. Stupid Emma.

And finally, you can’t talk about Bing Crosby without talking about this scene. Which, now that I think about it, is also totally cheesy. But it’s Irving Berlin, guys. He produces good cheese. White Christmas is the cheddar of holiday movies.

“She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself.”

SingingLantaarnpaal2

Last night, my friend Liz and I went to the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival and saw Singin’ in the Rain. Outside. On a giant, inflatable screen. It was awesome.

We’d talked about going to one of the many summer outdoor film festivals in DC, but none were showing anything we wanted to see. (Well, anything I wanted to see, anyway.) Until now.

Singin’ in the Rain is my all-time favorite movie. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the film and love it. My sister and I grew up watching Gene Kelly dance and fall in love with Debbie Reynolds. I know the film cold. I can recite all the dialogue. I know every beat of every dance.

SingingTrap

So you know, I like it just a little bit.  

If you ever get a chance to see your favorite movie outdoors on a huge screen, do it. Of course, I’ve seen Singin’ in the Rain a million times. (No exaggeration.) But to see it on a huge screen with a captive audience was something else. We applauded after every number. We laughed when RF yanked Lena’s mic chord and she fell over screaming. We sat in awe at Cyd Charisse’s legs. (Okay, maybe that last one was just me. But seriously, the legs on that woman!)

cyd_charisse_singing_in_the_rain

One of my favorite parts of the evening was observing the two boys who sat in front of us. They couldn’t have been more than 12, and arrived just before the film started. Once they set up camp, I thought, “Oh, no. This is going to be bad.” But they sat, enchanted, throughout the whole film. It was adorable.

In case you haven’t gotten it by now, let me say again how cool it was to see Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown on the big screen. The best part was watching the dance numbers all blown up. These two, in particular, were amazing to see.

 

“It’s gotta be a rose, cause it rhymes with Mose.”

 

When we were walking home, I said to Liz, “I could go watch that again right now. I love it that much.”

In the words of Barney Stinson: “De…wait for it….lightful! Delightful!”

And with that, I say goodbye for a few weeks. I’m going on vacation tomorrow, and will be back in September. I’ll leave you with what was undoubtedly the audience’s  favorite from last night: Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Donald O’Conner.

“I’ll give you the moon, Mary.” My favorite holiday films

For some reason, I am on top of things this Christmas. I am done Christmas shopping. My iPod has been loaded with holiday music for weeks. I have mailed out presents that need to be mailed out. I brought in Christmas cookies to work. (Sure,  I didn’t make them myself, but I helped mold them and take them in and out of the oven.) I haven’t sent out Christmas cards, but – in my defense – had already decided not to.

Yeah, I am bragging a little bit, but it’s earned — I have never, in my 27 years, been ready so early. I am the queen of last minute shopping, and piggybacking on my older sister for Christmas gifts. (Every year, I forget to get a present for someone and ask her if we can give said person a “joint” gift — read: can I give you money for what you already bought? But not this year, my friends! This year I am ready!)

To that end, tomorrow night, my friend and I are going to have a Christmas movie marathon. We’re going to do some old school classics (White Christmas), some classics with which we aren’t so familiar (The Shop Around the Corner, if I can find it, and A Christmas Story) and classics that kinda suck but you have to watch for mocking material (Holiday Inn).

So today, I was sitting at work, listening to Christmas music, when I started making a list of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s not too shocking – I am a traditionalist when it comes to holiday cinema – but I thought I’d share nonetheless.

– “Not for a kid in the second grade. You can get beat up for wearing something like that.”
Home Alone
I know what you’re thinking. Home Alone ? Really? Yes. Listen, a few weeks ago, I was just like you. All I remembered was the caper stuff with Kevin and the Wet Bandits. Which – funny the first time in the movie theater, but after that, not so much. However, over Thanksgiving, my family and I watched it, and, seriously, this is an underrated movie. (Due to it being over-hyped back in the day. Underrated because it was over-hyped. Weird.) Forget all the caper stuff toward the end. Watch for Kevin buying a toothbrush, confronting his fear of the basement, and tricking the pizza guy. Funniest moment in the movie – the pizza guy’s reaction to Angels with Dirty Souls. “I’ll give you ten seconds to get your ugly, yella, no good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead!” Watch for John Candy and his polka band. Watch for Catherine O’Hara. Forget the subsequent sequels and what the movie did to MacCauley Culkin’s life. It really is a great movie. And, bonus: Has a totally kick ass soundtrack.

At the very least, watch for this sequence:

– “To me you are perfect.”
Love Actually
I mean, how can one not love this movie? It’s a love letter to Christmas. It’s from the same people who brought you About a Boy and High Fidelity. And the cast – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy…. I’ve actually read several negative reviews of the film, and…I don’t get it. It’s not the greatest film of all time or anything, but…Christmas, love, loss, family… Sure, some plot lines are stronger than others, but they all have their strengths. I saw this film three times in the theater, which is my official Sarah Stamp of Approval (see also: Dan in Real Life, Moulin Rouge). What can I say? Sometimes I like movies that make me feel good, especially around the holidays, and this one is just right. (This film also has an excellent soundtrack.

I mean if this doesn’t make you tear up…

Well then maybe this will:

(There’s happy parts, too, I promise.)

“‘ ‘Atta boy, Clarence.”
It’s a Wonderful Life
This is one I grew up watching. It’s a favorite in my family. I remember in high school health class, they played this the last week of the semester, as we had finished everything up and had nothing to do. And someone in my class had actually never seen it before. I was shocked! (Really, I was.) I honestly didn’t understand how someone could go their who life without knowing  Bedford Falls, George Bailey or Clarence. The beauty of this movie is, I grew up watching it, and yet, every time I see it, it feels brand new. I’m not sure why. And you can never go wrong with  Jimmy Stewart.  It’s a Wonderful Life is cheesy, sure, but, much like Baz Luhrman, Frank Capra earns his cheese. I haven’t seen this one in a few years, and I think it’s time to bring it out again. Sing it with me now, “Buffalo girls, won’t you come out tonight, won’t you come out tonight, won’t you come out tonight. Buffalo girls won’t you come out tonight…and dance…by the light…of the moon.” Oh, hot dog.

“Come here, you weird, little man!”
Scrooge
There’s many incarnations of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. This one is my favorite. Though I won’t fault anyone for being skeptical about a musical version of the classic tale, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. And again, the cast – Albert Finney (who won a Golden Globe for his performance), Sir Alec Guinness… Fun fact: I used to be terrified of this film. When we first saw it, I couldn’t have been more than 9, and my sister, 13. All was well and good until we got to the part where Scrooge gets a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future, who eventually leads Scrooge to his grave. Scrooge falls into it, and, for just a second, the mysterious Ghost of Christmas Future unveils his face- which is a skeleton. My sister and I were terrified. We refused to watch the movie for years. But then, one Christmas, I decided to be like Kevin McCallister and take on my fear, and told my parents I’d watch it again. And man, am I glad I did. This movie you guys, is amazing. And it makes me cry more than any other Christmas movie does. Finney’s performance is so extraordinary. I really believe he’s that mean old miser, and then, when he has his transformation? Forget it. I’m a goner. Here’s the beginning of a new Scrooge:

You can’t see me, but I’m crying. The best part though, is the final words of the film, which, if I weren’t already a basket case, put me over the top:

“I don’t know if you can hear me, old Jacob Marley, and I don’t know whether or not I imagined the things I saw, but between the two of us, we finally made a merry Christmas, didn’t we? I have to leave you now. I must go and get ready. I’m going to have Christmas dinner with my family.”


(And,  I’m crying again. I think you have to hear him say the words, but every time, man. Every time, it makes me weep.)

– “It must be wonderful in Vermont this time of year. All that snow.”
White Christmas
Well, we’ve arrived at last, and how can the number one slot be filled by anything else? It’s Bing freaking Crosby, for goodness sake! And Danny Kaye! And Rosemary Clooney! Singing the  music of Irving Berlin!

The truth is, this is a totally cheesy movie, and unlike Baz and Capra, it’s perhaps not earned. But I love it anyway. I love everything about it – how it is so quotable, (“Mutual, I’m sure.” “How much is wow?” “Somewhere between ‘ouch’ and ‘boinnggg'” “What happens when you eat liverwurst?” “You dream of liverwurst.”) the singing, the dancing, the mad-cap antics of Phil Davis and Judy Haynes, the blossoming love between Betty and Bob, Vera Ellen’s amazingly tiny waist and incredible legs, the nosy housekeeper, who almost ruins EVERYTHING, (And every year, I get angry at her. Like, I actually think it’s going to turn out any different, if I just watch it enough times.) the ole General Waverly.  And yes, I admit it – when everyone stands for General Waverly in the end and starts singing “Because we love him, we love him…” my eyes are not tear-free. I can go a year or two without seeing any of the aforementioned movies. But, Christmas isn’t Christmas for me without White Christmas. It’s a yearly requirement.

Fun fact number two: Growing up, I always thought that people really bought Bob and Phil as the Haynes sisters. It really took me years, more years than I’m willing to admit, before I understood that the audience knew it was Wallace and Davis.

In my family, the guy who pops up is simply known as “The Guy With White Teeth”. (You might have to maximize the screen to get it.)

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you’re able to enjoy your favorite Christmas/holiday movie this year.

Video(s) of the day: Two things we should remember all year round, not just at Christmas time:

The first

and — (Fun fact number three: According to the audio commentary, these are all real – they sent a crew into airports.)