Category Archives: Things I Think

Three Things I Think: 2014 New Year’s Edition

2014-Numbers-Happy-2014-New-Year-free-Image-WallpaperWell, here we are. Five days into the brand new year. Have you made any resolutions for 2014?

This year, I resolve to continue a healthful regimen of diet and exercise as well as devote more time to my music, reading and writing. Then of course, there’s also a need to spend more quality time with family and friends.

I spent much of this past week compiling a list of things I can do to help me achieve these goals like starting a journal, doing a few writing prompts and downloading guitar exercises online.

It was then that I decided to make another list. Not things for me personally to achieve, but wishes for us as a society. Things I hope are gone by the end of the year that would make the world as we know it a much better place.

So, without any further adieu, here are the three things I think we need to get rid of by December 31st, 2014….

3. Reality Shows

I know it’s never going to happen, but is it too much to ask that they tone them down a bit? I mean, “The Voice” literally just got over a few weeks ago and I’ve already seen commercials promoting the next “season” which starts in February. I always thought “season” in TV vernacular meant years and not months.

Then there’s “American Idol”, “Biggest Loser”, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “X-Factor”. Oh, and let’s not forget “Dancing With The Stars” which seems to run non-stop all year long. If we could just get rid of one of these shows in 2014, I’ll be a happy camper.

2. Crappy Music

I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy for saying this but I don’t care. New music today sucks. You can’t turn on the radio dial without hearing the exact same terrible songs over and over. Auto-tuned vocals, blasé beats and cliche’ lyrics are the norm these days. Whether it’s Taylor Swift’s latest man problem, Justin Bieber’s threats of retiring or Miley Cyrus’s twerking, it never seems to go away.

This June will mark the 30th anniversary of the very first concert I ever attended: The Scorpions and Bon Jovi. This is relevant because three decades later I can still remember exactly where I was, who I was with and the music I heard. Better still, Bon Jovi; the band that was just starting out at that time and literally got booed off of the stage in favor of the Scorpions, was the highest grossing tour act of 2013.

There’s something to be said about having longevity in music. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Rolling Stones. Some of these artists have been doing their thing for more than a half-century.

Call me old-fashioned, but somehow I don’t think that we’ll still be talking about Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus 50 years from now. And even if we are, I’ll thankfully be long gone by then.

And now, the #1 thing we need to get rid of by the end of 2014….

119498920855513921snow.svg.med1. Naming and Fear Mongering about Winter Storms

I don’t know what part of the country (or world) you come from, but here in the great Northeast the weather has changed dramatically over the last year.

And no, I’m not talking about global warming and an increase in heat waves, rainfall or snow accumulations. I’m talking about way the media has decided to hype up their weather forecasting coverage by fear mongering about “apocalyptic” storms.

An apocalyptic event should be one like a Category 5 Hurricane, an F-5 Tornado, an earthquake, volcanic eruption or a horrific Tsunami. Not one where the region gets blanketed with three inches of snow causing slower than usual commute times to work on a Monday morning.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that we’re given advance notice about pending hurricanes and nor’easters. But it seems that lately every passing front that goes through between the months of December and March qualifies as Armageddon.

Here are just a few quotes I’ve heard regularly on television weather forecasts (emphasis added because the meteorologist added it in their own reporting).

“It’s going to be the coldest air in FIVE years folks!” — (Wow! That’s certainly a long time ago.)

“Stay tuned and I’ll tell you when to expect the COLDEST air we’ve had in TWENTY YEARS on NBC news at 11.” — (Beg pardon, but what was the weather like 20 years ago? Yep… cold!)

“Winter Storm Hercules is bearing down, blanketing our area with as much as a foot of snow in some of the higher elevations.” — (Hercules? Oh, please!)

Since when have we become such a watered down society that we now have to name every single storm regardless of cold temperatures, ice and snow? I don’t know about you, but in my forty-four years of existence we’ve always had just one name for this type of phenomenon:

Winter.

Four Things I Think: The 4 Greatest Inventions Ever

thingsithinkAside from the thumb (and having sex for fun instead of just procreation), it’s the one thing that separates us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom: the ability to use our brains to create things that make our lives easier. And thank God for engineers with PhD’s because about the only thing I can create (besides a blog article) is a bowl of cereal and maybe toast.

Now, I’m not just talking about smart phones, TVs, CD players or microwave ovens (although those are all noble inventions). I’m talking about inventions that REALLY make our lives easier. Things that if you took them away (even though I could adjust) I’d be a complete wreck.

So, without further ado, here are my choices for the 4 Greatest Inventions EVER:

4. Electricity. Thank you Mr. Franklin and your kite experiment. Even though it’s a no brainer, I decided to include one of the most obvious discoveries on the list. I suppose a case could be made for a car (it’s much cooler to pick up a girl for a date in a Mustang rather than riding on a donkey) or a candle (can you imagine coming home from work every day and spending the next six hours sitting in the dark?)

3. The Internet. Another no brainer really. Something that’s been around for longer than you think, but didn’t really gain traction until the mid 1990’s. Every answer to any question you’ve ever wanted to know about is somewhere easily accessible.

The Internet is a phone, music player, television, library and pretty much anything else you can think of. Normally, this would blow my top two choices out of the water. Although I do appreciate not having to drive to the library and use big reference books or microfiche anymore to find information, the next two are inventions are ones that have made my “physical” life better.

2. Air Conditioning. I don’t care who you are, if you’re buying a home, this is a MUST. I cannot even imagine how people lived through heat waves during the turn of the century without it. And central air conditioning improved upon an already great invention.

For me, growing up in a home where there was no central air and having to lug ginormous units and place them into small open window frames was a pain. Finding a place to store them once winter rolled around was an even bigger problem.

Speaking of winter, here’s the number 1 Greatest Invention Ever:

1. The Snow Blower. Without question, the greatest contraption ever invented. Case in point: Here in the Northeast, we are bracing for a huge snowstorm. Years ago, this would have meant that I would have to spend HOURS and HOURS shoveling my driveway and sidewalk; back breaking work (especially if it was that wet, packed snow).

Now, I just look out my window and say to Old Man Winter “Is this all you’ve got?” From the time I decide to go out and snow blow until the time I am once again resting on my comfy couch in my stocking feet it’s thirty minutes max. And unlike fancy cars and some other luxuries, use it just one time and you quickly discover it’s a machine that’s worth every single penny you pay for it. Just make sure you remember to fill the gas tank the night before the snowstorm.

Your turn: What are some of your choices for greatest inventions ever?

Five Things I Think: The Top Rock Vocalists of All Time

Yesterday they announced that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato would be joining the judges panel for the Simon Cowell talent show “X-Factor”. I was dumbfounded by this revelation. What credentials could these two individuals possibly possess that qualify them to be judges of singers?

So while I was thinking about how shows like this have “sold-out” and now only seem to be launching pads for celebrities to jump start their stagnant careers (hello J-Lo) I started thinking about some of the best rock singers I knew.

Singers. I’m a big fan of them. Especially ones that do it with ease. Because what they do is something I long for but know I’ll never achieve, even with years of training. It’s something you’re born with. And it makes me love them and hate them all the more. But in a good way.

So I decided to give you a quick list of who I think are the five greatest rock singers of all time. We can debate about it all you want (and I hope we do) but let’s see if you agree:

Lou Gramm

#5. Lou Gramm: When I first heard “Hot Blooded” for the first time I was blown away. It was one of the first songs I ever attempted to sing for real and subsequently realized that I wasn’t a singer. Thanks Lou!

Lou’s vocals also shine on songs like “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Juke Box Hero” and of course “I Wanna Know What Love Is”.

 

Robert Plant

 

#4. Robert Plant: I’ll probably take a lot of heat for this one but truth be told I was never really into Led Zeppelin all that much. I know, a travesty. Especially for a metal-head like me.

I was one of the ones who knew about them but like most people grew incredibly tired of hearing “Stairway to Heaven” being played ad nauseam on rock radio.

Perhaps that’s why I never opened myself up to some of their other great songs. But I give credit where credit is due. Robert was one of the best ever.

 

Steve Perry

#3. Steve Perry: You know how you can tell you’re an awesome singer? When you get kicked out of the band and the remaining members proceed to spend the next 15 years replacing you with guys who sound exactly like you. Sorry, but in this case, nothing comes close to the original.

Kids these days can’t seem to get enough of “Don’t Stop Believin”. But I like to remind them how great it was for me to be living during the years when songs like “Any Way You Want It”, “Lights”, “Stone in Love”, “Open Arms”, “Separate Ways'” and “Faithfully” were actually new!

Try to find any singer out there today that comes close to equaling a resume of songs like that.

Freddie Mercury

#2.Freddie Mercury: Without a doubt the ultimate front man. Watch their Live Aid performance from 1985. Or check out the video from their “Kind of Magic” tour. Not just a phenomenal singer, Freddie also knew how to play to the audience.

Listen to him on the magnum opus “Bohemian Rhapsody”, his swagger on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and his fun side on “Fat Bottomed Girls”. And even those are just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s still hard to believe that this guy’s been gone for over twenty years. Just think of all the great music we’ve missed. I still believe that if he was still alive Queen would be the biggest thing on the planet.

 

Even when they replaced him with Paul Rodgers (an honorable mention on my list) they STILL played in front of crowds in excess of 300,000 people.

Jimi Jamsion

#1. Jimi Jamison: In my view the ultimate rock singer. And no, it’s not just because he’s the only one on my list that I’ve actually met in person (although he is one of the most humble, down to Earth people you’d ever meet).

Just listen to him on any of the 1980’s Survivor albums (my favorite songs being “Can’t Hold Back”, “Man Against The World” and “Desperate Dreams”) or any of his solo material. The man’s voice never changes. It’s as powerful as ever and he does it with ease.

Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan once said Jimi could sing the phone book and quite honestly, I’d really like to hear it.

Your turn. Who are your favorite male rock vocalists?

Five Things I Think: The Top 5 People I Wish I Had Met

I think for each of us there have always been a few famous people we wish we could have met at some point or another before they died. Whether they were actors, musicians, presidents or athletes, there have always been people who’ve influenced us that we always wished we had rubbed elbows with but never got the chance. And I myself am no different.

So what I’ve done is compiled my own list of the top five people I wish I would have gotten the chance to meet before they went off to the great beyond. But rather than just put together a list of people you’d most likely expect to see (like say Jesus, Beethoven or Abe Lincoln) some of the people on my list come with a little twist. You see, a few of the people on my list I would have liked to have met in person and for some others, the character that they portrayed. Confused? Don’t worry, you’ll see what I mean soon enough. Enjoy!

#5. The Mad Painter: Was there ever a child who grew up in the 1970’s and watched Sesame Street that didn’t want to hang out with the guy who went around painting numbers on things without fear of retribution?

The Mad Painter was always one of my favorite shorts from the show. I didn’t care that his real intent was to actually teach me how to draw numbers properly. I just loved watching him use his old school graffiti talent and go around painting numbers on things. The world was his canvas and as an artist, what could possibly be better than that?

Who could forget the time a young Stockard Channing (who would go on to play Rizzo in the movie Grease) was having a picnic by herself while the Mad Painter used condiments to paint “3”‘s on her sandwich? Check it out here.

The Mad Painter was portrayed by Paul Benedict (1938-2008) who most people know as Harry Bentley, the neighbor of George and Weezie on “The Jeffersons”. You remember, the dude who always got the door slammed in his face by George.

#4. Mr Rogers: I don’t know about you, but I used to love watching this show too. There was something about rushing home from elementary school and watching Mr. R take off his work jacket, put on a cardigan sweater and sneakers and hang out for a while.

At one point I used to pretend to be Mr. Rogers and do his show live from the studio inside my bedroom. And I would have given up a weeks allowance to take a ride on the Trolly. As an adult now, I think I’d get a big kick out of listening to him tell stories about the show while we listened to Smooth Jazz.

Sadly, Fred Rogers passed away in 2003.

#3. Curly From The Three Stooges: They tried three times to replace him and each time failed. Nothing compared to the fun of watching Curly do his thing. The Three Stooges were a staple in my home on Sunday mornings.

I used to, and quite frankly still do, get pissed when the intro would come on and that damn Shemp’s picture was there with my boys Moe and Larry. And if Joe was in the short well, it was definitely bathroom break time.

To me, there was no better Stooge than Curly Howard (1903-1952). Whether he was making dog barking noises or getting punished by Moe that guy just had a knack for making me laugh.


#2. Dr. Seuss: Ok, now we’re starting to get to the heavy hitters. I could have spent years talking to this man about everything from Yertle The Turtle right up to the Grinch. I would want to know every detail about how he came up with such wonderful stories and characters.

I don’t think there’s ever been an author who has written children’s books in quite the same manner or continues to fascinate them more than Dr. Seuss, even twenty years after his death. I mean, this is a guy that tackled such things as the true meaning of Christmas (Grinch), prejudice/discrimination (The Sneetches) and even environmental issues (The Lorax) way before anyone else.

And finally….drum roll please…..

#1. Bob Ross: Without a doubt this is the one person that I regret not meeting most of all. All throughout the 80’s this man was a big part of my life. I used to love coming home from high school at 2:45pm just in time to watch Bob with my grandmother when his show came on the local PBS station at 3.

When I caught his show for the first time I thought there was absolutely no way anyone could paint a picture like that in 30 minutes. And yet, he took a plain white canvas and turned it into a masterpiece in less than half an hour.

He was the one who made me start picking up my own brush and palette and I’d spend countless hours reading his instructional books and painting the pictures he did.

As a teenager filled with all the emotional rage and feelings that teenage boys often carry, his “happy tree” demeanor always made me believe that anything was possible.

I’d look at my own finished work and say: “Wow, if I can paint like this, what else can I do?”

Take a peek at the master at work here.

I wish I would have gotten the chance to meet him before he died in 1995. If for nothing more than just to say… “Thanks!”

Now it’s your turn. Share some of the people you’ve always wanted to meet but never got the chance to.

Five Things I Think: The Best Movies of All Time

Perhaps you’ve read my past rants regarding holiday specials, the best scary movies I’ve seen or the warnings I’ve given about the films you need to avoid. As we wind down 2011 it seems only fitting that I’ve saved the best for last. So I’ll use this post to inform you of what I believe are the greatest movies of all time.

Let’s be honest right up front: I’m no movie mogul. I have no degree in movie watching and for the most part I can sit through pretty much anything. I like the thriller, comedy and action movie all equal. In other words, I’m not a hard person to entertain (I mean, I watch Godzilla for goodness sakes).

My judgement on these movies has nothing to do with box office success either. Truth be told I didn’t care much for Avatar (way too long) and Titanic and Transformers didn’t make my list either ( no offense Mr. Cameron or Mr. Bey). The criteria I use to determine if a movie is great or not is simple, much like me:

#1 – The film must have a fantastic story line. (as most great films tend to do)

#2 – The movie must not drag on and on. There are plenty of movies that are worthy of being called great but they seem to drag on longer than they should (Avatar and Batman: The Dark Knight both quickly come to mind). I prefer movies that tell the story quickly and makes you want to watch it again.

#3 – I’ll give bonus points to a movie that meets the first two criteria and also has a twist or is unique for the year it came out. For example, according to the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest movies of all time the #1 film by far is Citizen Kane and I would tend to agree with that statement. For a film that came out in 1941 there’s no doubt it meets all of my criteria to a tee. Everything about it deserves top honors. But since neither I nor my parents were around in 1941 to witness this masterpiece first hand I’ve instead created my own list with some information from Wikipedia included.

So dim the lights, grab some popcorn and let’s go:

5. The Sixth Sense (1999): This film made my list because I, like most others, fell for the twist at the end. I love movies that get you thinking one way and then pull the rug out from under you at the end.  Hollywood tried to copy the twist from this movie many times since but always came up short.

This film also gave director M. Night Shyamalan a green light to make a half-dozen bombs following it’s release. (See, well on second thought DON’T see, The Happening, a film which made my WORST list).

 
4. Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981): Harrison Ford at his finest. This film is an adventure of biblical proportion. It pits Indiana Jones (Ford) against a group of Nazis who search for the Ark of the Covenant because Adolf Hitler believes it will make their army invincible. Contains non-stop action, a love story and even the Nazi’s getting an ass-whooping. What more could you ask for?

 

 

3. Forrest Gump (1994):
Tom Hanks was a freaking genius. One of the first actors to for go his salary in exchange for a take of the box office. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a native of Alabama who experiences firsthand, and contributes to, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century while being largely unaware of their significance due to his below-average intelligence. Run Forrest, RUN!

 

2. Star Wars (1977): Episode 4 for those keeping score, this film clocks in at 90 minutes and is the movie that started the whole Star Wars craze. I’ll even give props to Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as far as coolness goes but nothing beats the original.


and by now you should already know….

1. JAWS (1975):  Without a doubt the greatest movie ever made. The only film that if I can (and have) watched every day and it never gets old. I used to be able to quote this entire movie line for line, much to the chagrin of my parents and siblings. “You all know me, know how I earn a living…”

JAWS won three Academy Awards and should have won the Best Picture but lost out to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when the academy had a Jack Nicolson bias. Don’t get me wrong, Cuckoo was a good film but certainly not better than JAWS.

Honorable Mentions: These are films I highly recommend you see. Right now if possible. You have my permission to take the rest of the day off.

In no particular order:

Platoon (1986), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Green Mile (1999), Memento (2000), The Lord of the Rings Series, Groundhog Day (1993), Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), Fight Club (1999), A Christmas Story (1983).

Your turn. What are some of your favorite movies of all time?

Five Things I Think: The Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Yesterday I wrote about the over saturation of Christmas music being played non-stop on my local radio station. And although they have tried their best to ruin songs that I’ve grown up with and adore they haven’t succeeded.

There are certain songs played only this time of year that not only remind me about the true meaning of the holiday but also conjure up memories of family and Christmases long gone by. After all, there really is no place like home for the holidays.

The list of songs I’ve compiled here all have one thing in common: visual imagery. When ever I hear these songs (done well of course) I find myself being caught up “in” the story of the song.  So with this in mind you’ll see that none of these songs contain barking dogs, Christmas donkeys or Grandmas getting run over. Yes, songs like that are cute but they aren’t even in the same league as the ones below.

Although I don’t ever recall toasting marshmallows this time of year or telling tales of glory or ghosts (although there was that one time I saved the cat that was stuck out on the roof) these songs forever hold a special place in my heart. Let’s see if you agree.

My Favorite Christmas songs of all time:

5. Christmas Time Is Here(1965): It’s got to be the version by Vince Guaraldi for The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. No other song sets the mood for Christmas more for me than this. When I hear this song I immediately conjure up memories of Snoopy and all the children skating on the ice as the snow softly falls. For a short while I’m a child again sitting in the parlor with my grandparents watching the show underneath a lighted Christmas tree and all is well with the world.

4. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – (1971): I’ve always been a big fan of John Lennon. But in all of the songs he’s written nothing (well except for maybe Imagine) makes you think more than this one does. From the very first line it immediately asks the question:

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

And I think, what have I done? What have we all done to make this a better world? It can happen….if we only want it to. So why haven’t we?

3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944): Initially written to coincide with a scene in the Judy Garland movie Meet Me In St. Louis, I can only imagine what it must have been like to have watched this movie in the theater and heard that song for the very first time. This song also brings back warm memories of family for me, most notably the line:

Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow

What a promise of hope. Although families may be apart due to death, distance or war someday, God willing, we will once again all be together.

2. Do You Hear What I Hear – (1962): Believe it or not this song was actually written during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A time when the threat of nuclear war was very real and very near. Although the real meaning of this song dealt with one of the scariest times in our nation’s history when I listen to this song now I immediately become one with the night wind, Sheppard boy and mighty king. In my mind’s eye I see an old kingdom on the first Christmas morning where royal and peasant join in unison in praising the name of the newborn. I see myself high above the tree looking down and taking it all in as the call to pray for peace everywhere is made. Sadly, 50 years since it was written and this same proclamation couldn’t be needed more.

1. Hark The Herald Angels Sing – A carol that actually began in the mid 1700’s and went through several iterations to become what it is today. This song is my all time favorite for several reasons but mostly because of just one line that pretty much sums up the entire holiday for me:

Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild, God and Sinners reconciled.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite songs of Christmas?

Eight Things I Think: Best Christmas Specials Edition

Does anyone remember the intro to the CBS holiday specials? Check it out here

I remember the sound of my heart beating faster as the rainbow colored word “Special” did a complete three-sixty. Watching this intro now three things immediately come to mind:

1. I was a child whenever I saw it.

2. It was probably around 8pm in the evening. Most definitely before 9 when all “good” children were in bed.

3. Most importantly something really, really cool was about to be on television.

Although it was used through out the year for holiday specials this little intro always reminds me of Christmas and the days I watched them growing up. And since it is the first of December it’s only a matter of time before these shows are back on for another generation (or two) to enjoy.

Which leads me to the subject of today’s blog.

Every year there seems to be new Christmas/Holiday specials on. ABC Family even devotes the entire month of December to “The 25 Days Of Christmas” where they showcase a plethora of new shows mixed in with familiar classics.

Sadly, none of the new stuff can compare to those timeless shows of the 60’s and 70’s.  It amazes me that a cartoon or claymation show from forty years ago can tell a better story in 45 minutes then a state of the art two-hour Hollywood made for TV feature.

One of the things I’ve always loved about these specials were the villains and how in the end they all were redeemed. Whether it was by finding out the true meaning of Christmas or if necessary, getting all of their teeth pulled.

Although I could probably give you at least a dozen I’ve narrowed the list down to eight and can now present to you my picks for The Best Christmas Specials of All Time.

You’ll notice that this list contains a lot of Rankin-Bass favorites and for good reason. These two gentlemen were masters at making specials that appealed to viewers of all ages. All of these shows were, and thanks to magic of cable continue to be, specials I enjoy watching every year.

Let’s see if you agree:

8. Mr Magoo’s A Christmas Carol (1962): What’s not to love about watching Charles Dickens’ classic tale told with the wacky blind guy in the title role? I’ll admit the songs were pretty crappy but the ghost of Christmas future literally scared the crap out of me.

7. Twas The Night Before Christmas (1974): A Rankin-Bass cartoon with great songs and a wonderful story. A disgruntled little mouse sends Santa a mean letter and then has to redeem himself by fixing a clock in the center square of town to atone for it.

6. Frosty The Snowman (1969): Ok, I’ll admit it. I cried my eyes out on more than one occasion when Frosty melted.  But let’s get this straight – I was a child…yeah, let’s go with that.

5. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974): A Rankin-Bass feature where Santa decides to take a year off because no one appreciates him. It’s up to two misfit elves to go to Southtown and find people who have the Christmas spirit.

This show also featured the Miser Brothers. Nothing more needs to be said.

4. Santa Claus is Comin’ Town (1970): The true origin of Santa Claus. I was deathly afraid of the Winter Warlock. That is until he got his Choo-Choo Train and turned good. And what’s not to love about Topper the penguin and his cute little scarf?

 

3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Another great story about redemption. I loved the Grinch’s dog Max. Most kids of my generation were familiar with the animation. It was done by Chuck Jones who was most popular for his work with Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons of the same era.

2.  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Whether it’s the Charlie Brown tree, Lucy getting kissed by a “dog”, Snoopy winning the lights and display contest or the message Linus delivers…it’s all wonderful. But the thing I remember most about this show was the music. Vince Guaraldi’s jazz from that special is one of the most recognizable sounds of the season to this day.

1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964): There is absolutely no arguing that this is the greatest Christmas special of all time. I own a copy of this DVD and STILL to this very day watch it when it’s on TV. This is THE special I remember most when seeing the CBS “Special Presentation” intro. The only show that has run consistently every year on that channel since 1964.

Rudolph tells the story of a misfit reindeer with a light-bulb nose who teams up with an elf who’d rather be a dentist. Along the way they encounter a bunch of misfit toys that children no longer care for. And ironically, Santa somehow seems to have forgotten about them too.

 

I loved the music and characters but, like all Rankin Bass specials do – I was petrified of the Bumble snow monster until the very end.

Finally, and although technically not “Christmas”, I need to give an honorable mention out to Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976). If for nothing else than the picture below.

As December begins and the hustle and bustle gets into full gear I hope you’ll take the time to watch some of these specials again and make more memories. Also, let me know what your Christmas Special list would look like.

Happy Holidays to all!

Five Things I Think: The Five Scariest Movies of All Time

I was making plans to see Paranomal Activity 3 this weekend and was heartened to see that it recieved a 77%  rating on RottenTomatoes.com (which qualifies it as “fresh”). I take the “fresh” ratings as a sign that I’ll most likely enjoy the movie and Rotten Tomatoes has never let me down. But then I noticed an article they had. It was for Rotten Tomatoes ranking of the 75 Scariest Horror movies of all time.  After checking out their list and seeing that King Kong was #1 I was not impressed. KING KONG?? Someone is trippin’ at Rotten Tomatoes.

For me, a scary movie is one that scares the crap out of you. One that makes you so scared you couldn’t bear to watch it again but can’t resist. So without further adieu, here you go. My choices for the Top 5 Scariest Movies of All Time.

5. Dracula (1931): It has got to be the original. No phony remakes will do. Since it’s release there hasn’t been a single vampire movie that’s come close to being as scary (and YES that IS a knock on the Twilight series).  Costing only $355,000 to make and at just slightly over an hour in length this eighty-year old film still scares the crap out of me.

 

 

 

 

4. The Exorcist (1973). The pea soup, head spinning around classic. This movie I could never bring myself up to watch. It was so scary that I could only watch it in parts and to this I think I’ve only ever seen it once from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

3. The Sixth Sense (1999) This movie would have placed much higher but the scare factor fell just a bit short. This was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those ones that leads you down a path of thinking one way and then pulls the rug out from under you at the very end. So much so that at the end you’re torn between being scared and pissed off that you didn’t figure it out earlier. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): It took quite a long time for me to work my way up to watching the very first Freddy movie but the whole idea that a monster would get you when you sleep was such a great plot. As usual though, Hollywood ruined it by making a half-dozen sequels. Oh and here’s an interesting fact: did you know that Nightmare on Elm Street was the first movie for a little known actor named Johnny Depp?  Now you do.

 

 

 

 

1. Halloween (1978): This one is FREAKING scary. I remember listening to that creepy intro music and the hairs on my arm would stand up and make me hide my eyes. Just the way that Michael Myers was “there” and then the next time you look he’s “gone” creeped me out.

I remember growing up and watching this movie with my best friend. He was my neighbor who lived down over the hill from me.  I asked him about it not too long ago and this is what  he had to say. Pretty much sums it all up:

 

 

 

I must’ve been like 13 and watched my first “scary movie” up at your place. Halloween …..Of course we didn’t watch it in the middle of the afternoon or anything….We didn’t get done watching that until about midnight…..I ran down that hill to my place in the pitch dark so fast….I think I would’ve beaten Usain Bolt down that hill that night….if I would’ve run into a tree, I would’ve killed myself. Got home, went to bed, laid there looking all over the room for about an hour….couldn’t calm myself down and ran to the bathroom for a puking session….then went to sleep. Ha! They just can’t make movies like that anymore.

When a movie can make you run like hell, keep you awake and make you puke…it’s mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned. And he’s right, they just don’t make movies like that anymore.

Five Things I Think: The 5 Worst Movies of All Time

I’m no film aficionado by any stretch of the imagination but I think I know a thing or two about bad movies when I see them (or make the attempt to see them). I’ve always been a huge action, adventure and horror/suspense junkie but over the years my will has been tested as I’ve seen some real doozies with things like pesky kids (Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom), horrendous acting (Friday the 13th Part what ever you want) and plot lines that would make your sick to your stomach (try watching the movie Alive – the only movie that made me nauseous and claustrophobic).

But I don’t base my opinion on character, the film score or even directing. Nope, for me only one of two criteria must be met in order for a film to be dubbed HORRIBLE:

One: If during the course of watching the movie I want to literally get up and leave.  Something not really smart considering you may have shelled out a bunch of money to see that you thought would be much better.

This actually happened to me on two occasions and on one of them I was successful in walking out. That was the wonderful film Hellraiser II. If you ever get a chance to see it, don’t. It sucks. But I still get a chuckle thinking about walking out of the 25th Street Theater yelling “THIS MOVIE BLOWS!”

The second movie I wasn’t so lucky at escaping from mainly because I was with a company of people. Hence, that particular movie has been dubbed my Worst Movie of All Time (as you’ll see).

The other criteria that indicates a bad film to me is if while watching the movie I fall asleep. I can probably name dozens of movies where this occurred but I’ve narrowed down my list to five to keep from dozing off again.

You may notice while reading this list that a lot of my stinkers ended in 2008. I take pride in knowing that my viewing habits seem to have gotten better.

Let’s get to the heart of this post. I present to you the FIVE most horrible movies of ALL TIME:

5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994): There was a time when I would see every single Nightmare on Elm Street as fast it came out. I’m still not sure why as they were all pretty terrible. I definitely reached my limit when this atrocious movie came out and I still to this day have absolutely no idea what it was about. And I don’t plan on watching it again any time soon to find out.

4. Jaws: The Revenge (1987): If it has anything to do with JAWS you know I’m there. This was the first movie I saw being a high school graduate. After that mistake they should have rescinded my diploma and made me repeat 12th grade. Who in their right mind would believe a shark would follow someone from the northeast to the Bahamas? Apparently the same people who’d construct the most fake looking shark ever caught on film and try to pass it off as real.

3. The Happening (2008). I wanted to like this movie. I mean, I REALLY wanted to like this movie. I loved the Sixth Sense and kept trying to give director M.Night Shyamalan a pass. But since the “I see dead people” movie he has continued to disappoint.  In fact several of his movies including Unbreakable, Signs and The Village could all be listed here. But I chose The Happening because it is quite possibly the worst acting I’ve ever seen in a movie.  I’m not kidding, it’s bad.

2. Twilight (2008). I will NEVER understand why women love these films so much. I forced myself to read the first book. I forced myself to watch the first film at home on DVD. I fell asleep 1/4 of the way through. Now you KNOW a movie is bad when going to bed at 8:30pm on the weekend sounds more appealing than watching a movie with awesome microwave popcorn.

Drum roll please?….. I now present to you the worst movie of ALL time…..

1. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). Without a doubt the most atrocious film ever made. I really enjoyed the original Speed and the whole notion of a bus blowing up if it goes under 55 mph. But Sandra Bullock on a boat? Eh, not so much.
It was a warm summer evening in 1997 when I saw it and I wanted to leave SO badly. I could not leave. I was with people and it would be embarrassing. I forced myself to stay. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off saying I had to go to the bathroom and hanging out next to the urinal all night. That’s how bad it was. I still lament losing every one of those 121 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. In fact, just me reminiscing about how horrible it is has cost me an additional ten more minutes of life. So I’m finished discussing it.

So there you have it. The five worst movies of all time as dubbed by me. I’m sure there are plenty of movies that meet this criteria for you as well.  So please feel free to add your own or challenge my list. I’m always interested in learning about movies I need to avoid.

Ten Things I Think – Best Cereals Ever Edition

Since my reunion with my home boys Frank, Count and Boo last Monday I’ve been doing some heavy thinking on what my next blog entry should be (in between enjoying hearty bowls of monster goodness of course). I didn’t have to think too long though. It was quite obvious that this blog post needed to be about the absolute BEST cereals ever-growing up.

You know, I feel bad for those people who never had the opportunity to indulge in sugar-coated mornings. The ones whose Moms brought home nothing but bland Cheerios, Cracklin Oat Bran and Puffed Rice. Puffed Rice?? For a kid?? Only people over the age of 70 eat Puffed Rice.

Some of my best memories from childhood include the days when my Mom and Grandmother came home from the local Food Lane. They’d walk in the door with 7 or 8 huge paper bags filled with groceries and I loved rummaging through each and every one of them. Throwing pickle jars and butter to the side to find the box of sweet goodness buried within. Having them yell at me when I attempted to open the box to obtain the prize inside without waiting until breakfast. Still not sure what that was all about.

In any event and without any further adieu, here are my top ten cereals of all time:

10.Trix. I felt bad for the silly rabbit who never got his Trix. In every commercial he always came so close to getting them. Remember when they held an election every so often to decide if the rabbit should get Trix? You’d cut out a Yes or No on the box and mail it in? I think it was rigged though. There’s no way everyone would deny the rabbit his Trix. That’s just Un-American to me.

 

 

9. Cocoa Puffs: I could somehow relate to Sonny, The Cuckoo Bird. That chocolaty goodness sure was hard to resist. I always thought this was a cereal that tried to compete with the big boys but always fell a little bit short. Don’t get me wrong though. I ate enough of this stuff to keep me on a sugar high for years.

 

 

8. Super Sugar Crisp. How it will ALWAYS be remembered by me. Yes, before Sugar Bear became “Super Bear” and Post changed the name from “Sugar” Crisp to “Golden” Crisp. I’d like to meet one of the Mothers who was comforted by the fact that even though they changed the name of the cereal and mascot every bowl still contained 18 grams of sugar.

 

 

7. Freakies. I honestly don’t remember too much of this cereal. It looks like it was only marketed for five years.  I have an old Polaroid picture of me around age 7 eating a bowl of it so I assume it must have been delish.  I didn’t eat crap back then.

 

 

6. Cap’n Crunch. I loved all the flavors of the Cap’n. I’m even an avid follower of him on Twitter (and he even follows ME). I used to love it when the Cap’n would have his treasure hunt games. You’d get a game piece in the box and have to call some phone number to get a clue. I still wonder if anyone ever won the bicycle they were giving away or if it was only a ploy to get you to eat more crunch. If it was the latter, it worked because I ate plenty.

 

5 Fruity Pebbles. If there was ever any cereal that I could eat a whole box of in one sitting it would be this. Much like a fine wine or good lager it goes down smooth and never seems to fill you up. I read an article somewhere that said since 1970 Fruity Pebbles is the most popular cereal purchased in America and I can see why. It’s addicting.

 

4. Quisp. I’d be surprised if many of you remember this one. This cereal is actually one of the earliest ones I remember having growing up. The little alien guy with the beanie. Quisp is rare to find these days but is still made. I think it’s actually just saucer-shaped Cap’n Crunch (it’s made by the same company). But the whole alien thing is what kept me coming back.

 

3.  Lucky Charms: There’s something about Lucky Charms that’s like crack to me. It’s got to be the marshmallows. I’ve been writing to General Mills for years asking them to make an “Oops! All Marshmallows” version of Lucky Charms. I think they’re ignoring me.

 

 

2  Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute: I had a hard time choosing between these three so I selected them all. If I was stuck on a deserted island and my number one choice was not available these would be what I’d choose for breakfast every morning. I mean, what’s not to love about having breakfast with a ghost, werewolf or frankenstein?

 

And finally……

1. Count Chocula: An absolute no brainer if you’ve been following my blog, Facebook or Twitter feeds. Who else would love a cereal so much as to read it bedtime stories, take on motorcycle rides or have it’s picture taken with the guys who wrote Sister Christian? That’s how much I love this stuff. Count used to be available year round, even when Frankenberry and Boo Berry went by the way side. Sadly, it only appears now at Halloween time but I plan on stocking up.

 

Your turn: Let me know some of your favorites. How does it compare to this list?

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