Outrageousness: Top 10 X-mas Movies List

Ok. So there’s alot of Top Christmas movie lists on the internet, for big publications….and I don’t know what dunce is writing them…but they’re all wrong. I saw two where Die Hard (1988) was ranked #1 and lists with Brazil (1985) and 1941 (1979) on them. Granted…they’re great movies…I love 1941 and it’s one of Spielberg’s best…but seriously, they’re not Christmas movies. They happen to occur around the Christmas holiday season and in my book that does not constitute as it being a Christmas movie. A Christmas movie is either about Santa Claus, the Christmas spirit of goodwill, change and brotherly love or Frosty, Ebenezer Scrooge and other fictitious Christmas characters.

So, here’s my top ten. Entirely based on popularity on television (frequency of airings), here-say and personal preference. Enjoy. This is finally a REAL CHRISTMAS TOP 10 LIST.

#10 Love Actually (2003). It’s popular. I always hear some female talking about how great it is and how it’s one of their favorite Christmas movies. I’ve never seen it. But since I hear about it every year…and I always see it playing on television. It’s on the list.

#9 Home Alone (1990). The epitome of ‘Christmas movie’ in the 90’s. On TV all the time. Everyone knew who Macaulay Culkin was. Every kid loved this movie.

#8 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). I hate the message that comes through in this film. Ostracize those that are different. And when you need them, kiss their ass and use them for their gifts. But it’s Rudolph. It’s classic. Needs no explanation.

#7 Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Never seen this version. But…it’s a classic and I hear alot of people swoon over this Christmas film. It’s also on TV alot.

#6 Scrooged (1988). Now THIS is a Christmas movie. Not as popular anymore…but it’s Scrooged. It’s got Bill Murray. People love it. And it’s amazing.

#5 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Hey, I like it…it’s not my favorite. But this film is still super popular. It’s a cult Christmas movie. And there’s this girl…. ‘What’s wrong? I thought you liked frog’s breath.’

#4 The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992). Not too popular anymore….but I don’t care. This is an amazing Christmas movie….and it’s The Muppets for heavens sake!

#3 Christmas Vacation (1989). Umm….it’s National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Enough said. ‘Shitter’s Full!!’

#2 It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Remember in the 80’s and 90’s when this film played during Christmas all the time? It was due to a copyright issue….but either way. This is the pinnacle of Christmas films. It’s a classic. I didn’t list it as #1….and you’ll see why.

#1 Elf (2003). Look….I don’t like this film. AT ALL. I saw it…..and it does nothing for me. But I understand that EVERYONE LOVES THIS MOVIE. It’s the trendy x-mas movie of the times. 2/3rds of people I talk to love this film and rave about it. And that’s why it’s #1.

Honorable Mention: A Christmas Story (1983). It’s not really fair to include this in the list. This movie IS Christmas and has been since they’ve played it for 24 hours during Christmas. It’s kinda like the Yule Log at this point.

Have a great holiday season everybody, whether or not you celebrate this silly tradition we call ‘Christmas’.

Backpacking: Push me off the cliff

‘To travel is to understand that  everyone is wrong about other countries’
-Aldous Huxley

I was 22. Just graduated college. Just broke up with my high school sweetheart. Just moved back home. Luckily, I had a spirited and strong-willed best friend, as well as a worldly and passionate grandmother to push me over the edge and get me to use my newfound free time on an experience that I wouldn’t regret. I was scared of flying. I was apprehensive about going to another country. I was afraid of living life.

London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Florence, Rome, sleeping on trains, getting on the wrong trains, not showering, walking 15 miles a day and being so appreciative for a piece of French cheese and a seltzer water while you sit on a park bench, getting caught in the rain, having Italian train workers attempt to extort money out of us, getting stuck in a bad part of town surrounded by drunken psychotic bums, drinking with a cute Australian girl we just met, going to Oktoberfest, having my first Vienna schnitzel, seeing the graves of my ancestors, befriending a local Sicilian cat who guided me through town at midnight, getting so drunk I took my clothes off in the middle of the streets of Florence, giving a gypsy money because a stupid American stole some of his roses…this was life! This was real! My mind was blown. I was exactly where I needed to be and I understood exactly why my Austrian grandmother made me go.

I’ve come across so many people in this world, that want and wish and complain and never act on the things that they truly want to do.. and I want to just punch them in the face and say WAKE UP!!! People who could save money for a month, or a year, or two years…and would easily have enough to have the time of their life…somewhere new. Now it is entirely possible that our lives are devoid of choice and are fatalistic. But it is also possible that our destiny is our own. And….I have to remember that I once was exactly like those people I want to ‘wake up’. We just need someone to give us a push once in a while. And if this blog post can do that for one person, that makes me very happy.

It’s now 8 years later and each opportunity I’ve had to backpack again…I have. I knew all too well that my youth would fade and that I needed to enjoy it. I was blessed in my early 20’s with the chance to travel abroad, a gift given by my grandmother. So each penny I could save since then, I did. Each opportunity that came, I took. I’m not going to tell you who to be, or how to feel, or what traveling abroad can do to your mind, your soul and your spirit. But I will say one last thing…..don’t take a tour bus if you can help it. Walk. Bike. Take a train. Feel every step. Smell all the smells. Be open to meeting people. There are plenty of ways….and you’re never too old to begin.

Times will always change and it will take with it the things you once enjoyed. So enjoy them while they’re still here. Don’t have regrets. One day it will all be over. Live your life. And this is me……trying to push you off the cliff. Enjoy.

And if you have no money. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will afford you a chance to travel somewhere new. Go for it. I did….and it’s well worth it.

‘We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.’
-Anais Nin

Movies: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Second movie post….I know. If I was going in order this would be a video game post….but I love movies a bit more. So…today I’m going over the 2012 film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, directed by Lorene Scafaria and starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley.

Pros: Good acting. Funny moments. Refreshingly unique, both by title and by story. Draws you in. Touching film. Great message.

Cons: A little hokey at times. Starts off slow. Some ‘iffy’ parts.

Is it worth a rental? Yes. It’s a fun touching film that is a bit different than your run of the mill hollywood movie. Now, nothing is entirely unique because almost everything’s been done before…but it’ll throw you a curveball at times. And come on….Steve Carell is great and Keira Knightley is easy on the eyes. How can you not like a girl who played Lady Guinevere and was a pirate?

Now, you need to be in the mood to watch a nice film for this one. I wasn’t prepared for a nice film….so I was a little bored because it took 30 minutes for me to get interested. But I stayed patient and I got hooked. If I had made this film, I’d be proud of it.

M.A.V.B.L.O.G. Score: 8 out of 10. A good film. Touching. Nice. Relaxing.

Art: Alexander Rutsch

For my first ‘art’ post, I’d like to highlight an artist that I was lucky enough to know as a child. Alexander Rutsch.

“My dreams are color and life. They soar in my head like millions of symphonies. I can never stop building dreams.” – Alexander Rutsch

Being a 2nd generation-er, my family had a wide background and I grew up around an eclectic mix of Europeans and Russians. Alexander was married to my mother’s first cousin and our family gatherings were always an opportunity for me to wander off into his sculpture garden or inspect his studio of unfinished paintings. At the time I didn’t know what a professional artist was…I just knew that he was a kind, intelligent man, who played chess with my grandfather, spoke various languages with my relatives, told great stories and was a bit misunderstood.

One day while walking with Alex in his sculpture garden, he asked me to help name one of his sculptures. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time…and I froze. Me? A kid? I didn’t know anything about sculpture. How could I help name a piece of art made by a master? Alex rattled off a few names and then I blurted out something. I don’t remember what…..but I remember it wasn’t that good. I just wanted to impress the kind, artist elder in my family.

As I got  a little older and became more educated, I started to recognize the characters in his stories. His friends and colleagues were Salvadore Dali, Pablo Picasso…..Gods of the art world. Alexander even did a portrait of Pope John Paul II. And yet there he was, sitting with my family eating BLT’s, asking for scraps of paper and shoe polish so he could draw outside at the pool and telling wonderful stories to whoever would listen.

I’m no art historian. I studied art throughout my life and memorized the texts at one time, but I’m no walking encyclopedia of styles and methods. What I do know rings truer in my ears than anything I learned in a textbook. A humble, kind, gentle man….produced simple, calming and impressive artwork. His character shone straight through into his art. And as my memories of this great man fade since his death in 1997, my appreciation for him grows stronger. Perhaps one day his pieces of art will be as prominent as a Van Gogh or Dali. To some people they already are.

I’ve had many artistic influences in my life, direct and indirect, and I do credit Alexander as one of the reasons why I followed my family’s artistic roots. I had influences from actors, musicians, artists and businessmen on one side….and on the other athletes, policemen, military and blue collars. Maybe Alex saw the misunderstood artist within me when he asked me to name his sculpture years ago. I like to think so.

If you’d like to learn more about Alexander Rutsch you can visit-www.alexanderrutsch.com

Movies: Looper (2012)

For my first post on movies I’ll go over the 2012 science fiction film Looper. The film, directed by Rian Johnson, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

Now I love movies and I love blogs but sometimes these online movie reviews can be way too long and drawn out. So I’ll keep my movie reviews succinct. Starting with this one.

Pros: Great acting. Great set-up. Great writing. Impressive use of special effects. Logical and simple explanation of time travel. Great art direction. And if the budget was really 30 million as imdb.com states, I’m impressed.

Cons: None in my book. The only reason I see you not liking this film is if you don’t like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and/or Science Fiction.

Is it worth it to go see the film in any theaters that it’s still in? Yes. Is it worth a rental or dvd purchase? Absolutely. It’s an engrossing film that will wrap you up in it’s world, if you’re paying attention. My only gripe was that I thought they’d go in another direction with the ending….but I have to remember that Stanley Kubrick wasn’t directing this. But that’s not a condemnation. The film is awesome.

M.A.V.B.L.O.G. Score: 10 out of 10. For what it is…..this film rocks!