The Shocking Truth about Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer


I know it’s not even December yet, but Thanksgiving is past, so I’m well within my rights to begin observing traditional Christmas practices, one of which, is watching holiday movies. Other than spending time with family, gathered together cozily in a warm living room, laughing together, there is nothing that gets me more in the holiday spirit than watching Christmas movies, which I think is mostly a nostalgia thing, because I re-watch a lot of my favorites from when I was younger, from back when Christmas was still a magical time full of excitement and wonder. Watching Christmas movies is the closest thing I’ve found to recapturing some of those feelings, so last night, a few minutes after eight, I found a classic Christmas movie on YouTube, started streaming it to my TV, and waited for the magic to take me away.

It didn’t exactly go how I’d expected. The movie was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, the 1964 animated classic narrated by the snow man voiced by Burl Ives, and apparently it had been a while since I’d seen it, because there obvious flaws throughout the movie that I didn’t remember from previous viewings, like for instance, all of the jerks at the North Pole. When you think about the North Pole, images are conjured up of a magical place, one where elves are happily doing a job that they love and Santa is cheerfully in his office, making his list, checking it twice, and eating plenty of Christmas cookies provided by the lovely Mrs. Clause, but this is not the case in Rudolph’s world. From the very beginning, Mrs. Clause is badgering Santa to eat, not cookies or some other Christmas snack, but a gray, indecipherable, depressing blob on the plate in front of Santa. It looks disgusting, but Mrs. Clause keeps yelling at him to eat, berating her husband for being so skinny, but honestly, if my wife’s cooking looked like that, I would probably be skinny too, because that “food” didn’t even look edible. Believe it or not, Mrs. Clause is one of the nicer characters.

Donner, the reindeer who is the father of Rudolph, is a jerk from the very beginning too, ashamed of his son’s red nose for some reason. He constantly talks about it like it’s a bad thing and tries to cover it up with mud and when that doesn’t work makes him a detachable nose that makes it hard for Rudolph to breathe and makes him talk funny. After Rudolph’s fake nose pops off in front of Santa and his red nose is exposed, Donner, the one who should be supportive and encouraging to his son, basically tells him that he’s ashamed of Rudolph, which causes him to run away from home. Worst father of the year. The head elf is a real jerk too, tasked with supervising the elves as they make the toys in preparation of Christmas, he doesn’t make it the fun filled and cheerful environment that other movies would have you believe. He’s constantly yelling at the elves to hurry up with their work, and criticizing one in particular, calling him a terrible elf and telling him that he doesn’t belong there, causing that elf to jump out the window…and run away from the North Pole as well. Then there’s the Christmas song that the elves performed for Santa and Mrs. Clause, that he, the head elf was conducting. Christmas songs should be fun, cheerful and full of joy, but at the end of the song, he yelled at the elves that they sounded terrible!

Last but certainly not least, is the biggest jerk of all, easily the most surprising, Santa Clause himself. I don’t think in any Christmas movie that I’ve seen, that Santa Clause has been portrayed as such a negative person, let alone, in a kids movie. Santa does his share of hating on Rudolph’s red nose, first when he stops by to see him when he is born and then again when the fake nose pops off, not allowing him to be on the sleigh team, the group of reindeer that pulls his sleigh because of it, despite the fact that Rudolph is one of the best flyers in the class. The icing on the cake comes when the elves are performing their song for Santa, all dancing around and singing about being Santa’s elves and how happy they are in their jobs. During the musical number Santa couldn’t have been more disinterested, slouching in his chair, looking away, and I think even rolling his eyes. When the song was over he got up and made some disparaging remark about it, not giving the elves any credit whatsoever, before abruptly walking out of the room. This is the man that kids are supposed to adore, but watching Rudolph makes me think that I wouldn’t want that jerk anywhere near my home on what is one of the happiest days of the year. It was a real eye opening experience for me, but at least now I know that nobody at the North Pole can be trusted, least of all Santa Clause, the perfect realization to kick off this holiday season!


Flatliners: A Night at the Movies with my Wife and Mimi

IMG_4281The night before last was my mimi’s birthday, so last night, Friday, my wife and I took her to the movies to celebrate. For those of you who don’t know mimi, she loves horror movies, which might be surprising to you if you’ve ever met her, because she is truly one of the sweetest and most mild mannered people in the world, but she absolutely loves everything scary, from the books she reads to her favorite movies, so that is how the three of us ended up at the opening night showing of Flatliners at the Memphis Paradiso theater. We bought our tickets and the obligatory snacks that enhance the movie going experience tenfold, then settled into our seats, smack dab in the middle of the movie fairly empty movie theater. Personally, especially when it comes to scary movies, I prefer to sit in the back of the theater for two reasons, one so nobody sees me jumping out of my seat in fear, because that is very embarrassing, and secondly, to prevent a monster from sneaking up and attacking me from behind, but on this night I decided to put my fears aside to give mimi the ultimate movie viewing experience. The lights went down and the previews started up, me growing more nervous as each one passed, knowing that very soon, I was going to be terrified, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has read this blog because as you know, I’m scared of just about everything.

If you continue reading there will be spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.

The movie started with a car accident, like the very first scene, which made me think about how if only I’d been in a car accident on the way to the theater, I would have been mercifully spared the horror that was to come. So these doctors that allowed themselves to be killed briefly so they could experience the afterlife, were haunted by people from their past after they were brought back to life, people they were harboring a guilty conscience for, because they felt they had wronged them for one reason or another. Ellen Page, the lead in the movie and the only cast member that I recognized, was killed first by her demon, her little sister that had died in the car accident in that first scene of the movie. The other doctors that had flatlined were haunted by people that they had actually wronged and did terrible things to, so it seemed a little silly that the first and only death in the movie would be that of the character who’s only fault was having a car wreck with her sister in the car. The story was pretty dull but it did deliver a few scares, which I was not too fond of. The thing I hated most about it was the buildup to the scary moments, when fast paced music would play, then everything would go silent, and that is when you knew that something was going to suddenly appear with a loud noise and I would inevitably jump in my seat, despite the fact that I knew it was coming, a monotonous and predictable pattern that the director followed throughout the course of the entire movie.

Out of five, I give Flatliners a two, only because as a horror movie, it did deliver some actual scary moments. For me though, it is the lowest on the totem pole in terms of horror movies, because I really don’t think it’s all that hard to scare an audience when you incorporate loud noises and disfigured faces suddenly appearing, and it’s certainly not the type of horror film that haunts you once you leave the theater. The dialogue was dumb and unconvincing a lot of the time, punctuated by random bursts of laughter throughout the theater during some of these particular moments. Despite it being a bad movie with a bad plot that didn’t make much sense, it was a fun night because of the people I got to spend it with, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend going to see it, not unless your mimi wants to go, because if she’s anything like mine, she will have fun no matter what you’re doing together.


A Forgotten Song Bringing Up Old Memories

Music has the power to bring back memories that have long been forgotten, taking you back to the exact moment and bringing back feelings in an instant that were first experienced more than a decade before, which is why I found myself about to break down crying when a random song came on my car radio. The other day I was headed to the grocery store with my wife. it was after work and I was feeling good as we cruised down the road listening to the music playing on one of the local alternative stations, and then the song switched, a light strumming of a guitar and a rush of emotion coming back to me. Before any words were even sung I felt my eyes began to tear up. It had been more than ten years since I’d heard this song, but I was immediately taken back to that dark movie theater in Little Rock where I received the bad news. It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad was visiting me from Memphis. I was in the tenth grade, sixteen years old at the time and we were at a movie that I’d already seen, “Stranger than Fiction”, and I had enjoyed it so much the first time that I was more than happy to see it again. Truth be told, it might very well be in my top ten favorite movies of all time, but since that day I think I’ve only watched it on one or two other occasions, unable and unwilling to bring back the sad memories that this particular movie conjures up for me.

There’s a scene in the movie when Will Farrell first kisses Maggie Gyllenhaal on the couch in her apartment, a turning point, the optimistic beginning of a relationship between the lonely IRS agent and the local bakery owner. A song starts playing by Reckless Eric called “Whole Wide World” and it’s a beautiful moment set to the tune of a perfect song. It was in this moment, during the kiss while the song was playing that I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket and I pulled it out in the dark movie theater to check the message. It was from my mom and contained some of the most devastating news that I have received to this day; Coach Brady was dead.

Coach Brady was without question one of the greatest teachers that I ever had, teaching me math both my eighth and ninth grade years, a subject that was my least favorite throughout my entire scholarly career, but for those two years it was my favorite class, solely because of the teacher. He had a knack for storytelling and on those lucky days he would breeze through the lessons, imparting the necessary knowledge that the job required then for the rest of the class would tell us stories from his life that would oftentimes make me laugh so hard that it hurt. It didn’t matter what particular story he would tell us, he would make the classroom shake with laughter as naturally as another teacher might assign homework, which is why I relished the fact that I could make him laugh too and would do so as often as I got the chance. Coach Brady was the first teacher that I ever felt really thought I was funny and appreciated that fact, which gave me the confidence and courage to be more outspoken. He made me want to share my sense of humor with others, which is something to this day that I consider one of my best attributes, and for that I will be forever grateful. I wish things would have happened differently, that he would have gotten better and I never would have received that horrible news, but things don’t always turn out the way that we would like. Although I only knew him for a couple of short years, Coach Brady left me something that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life, and even though he is gone, he will never be forgotten.

4th of July: A Walk in the Park and a Great Movie

IMG_3983It’s the fourth of July, independence day, so it’s pretty common to go watch a fireworks show tonight, but it’s raining, I hate loud noises, and I don’t feel like fighting traffic downtown, so the thunder shaking the walls of my apartment will have to suffice. Growing up I always celebrated this holiday in the same way, having a big cook out at my grandparents house, with burgers, hot dogs, cheese dip, watermelon, and homemade ice cream, but over the past few years those traditions have fallen by the wayside so I really wasn’t sure how I was going to spend my day. Last year was great, my wife and I, along with my brothers, mom and grandmother were all in Minneapolis watching a Twins baseball game, which is really the most American way to celebrate America’s independence, but unfortunately, my vacation was last week so all hopes of starting a new tradition on the 4th, involving going to a baseball game, diminished rather quickly.

I woke up early this morning, about five, and after reading for a little while, decided to go to the park for an early walk before it got unbearably hot outside, as Memphis summers tend to do. It was a beautiful morning, a bright blue sky with the sunlight on my back as I walked along one of the trails at Shelby Farms. It was early enough so it wasn’t very crowded, which was nice, because after having passing just a few people, I was already growing tired of saying “good morning”, an insane ritual of having to speak with a complete stranger just because you are walking past them, but I nodded and mumbled the words anyway, lest I seem like a jerk for not responding. I walked for an hour, but it didn’t seem that long, walking past several lakes surrounded by trees and smelling the fresh honeysuckle along the way, sweeping me up in the spirit of summer.

This afternoon I went to the movies with my dad and watched “Baby Driver” a film I knew nothing about going in, but was a little skeptical of due to what struck me as an odd name. The movie focused on “Baby” a young man indebted to an apparent mobster, although I don’t believe an official organization is mentioned, pays him back by being the getaway driver for various heists and robberies. It’s a very compelling story of someone being forced into a bad situation, and his struggle to get out of it to save himself and the girl that he has fallen in love with. “Baby” has a strong connection to music which is apparent throughout the movie, bringing a completely new perspective to music in film. Overall I really enjoyed the movie, however there were a couple of things toward the end that struck me as pretty unbelievable, the director seeing how far he could stretch the reality to cram even more action into the last few minutes. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 rating, and I definitely recommend you checking it out, but of course you don’t have to, because we live in America, and you’re independent to do as you please.


Movie Review: The Circle

IMG_3551If you only have twenty-four hours left to live and you want to see one more movie here on this earth, I would highly recommend going to see “The Circle”…if you would like to die a very disappointed person. I considered typing this movie review all in emojis so I could give it the appropriate amount of thumbs down and poop symbols that it deserves. First words are pretty monumental in a person’s life, and upon the movie finishing, my first words were “that was terrible.” That’s really all you need to know about “The Circle” but if you want to continue reading I’ll gladly tell you all about its awfulness. The book by Dave Eggers was one that I really enjoyed, and when I saw the preview for the movie I thought it looked absolutely incredible. I love Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, and they were as good as they could be in such a terrible movie, and even Patton Oswalt played his role well, but some of the other actors cast were absolute train wrecks. The actor who played Mercer (I could easily look up his name, but don’t want to put any extra effort into finding out who this horrible actor is) was painful to watch. Each scene he was in, it felt like he was in the audition reading the lines for the first time, awkwardly stumbling through the dialogue like someone who shouldn’t have been in a high school play, let alone a major motion picture. The one upside about this horribly portrayed character is that (spoiler alert) he eventually dies by driving his truck off a bridge. To be honest if I was such a bad actor, I would probably consider doing the same thing.

There wasn’t much flow to the movie at all and it seemed like it was just a bunch of scenes pieced together in a poor effort to form a movie. “The Circle” had so much potential to be an edge of your seat type of thriller, but the only thrill I got was when the movie ended and I was no longer subjected to this massive waste of time. I literally sat through the movie hoping with every fiber of my being that it would end soon. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because as soon as the opening credits started to roll, the theater emptied before the lights even came up. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and was the last person to leave the theater. I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast yet, but I hope for the sake of Emma Watson it was a much better movie than this one so she can continue to get starring roles, because she really is a good actress. The director really screwed over the respected actors who were in this movie by making it so terrible. I don’t know his name, but I should probably find that out so I don’t make the mistake of seeing another of his movies. On a scale of 1 to 5 I give “The Circle” a 1. Don’t go see the movie…that is unless of course you enjoy torturing yourself.

Movies to Watch

Since going to see “La La Land” in theaters a couple of weeks ago I have been watching quite a few more movies than I normally do. I’ve just been really in the mood to watch movies lately, so in the spirit of being the nice person that I am, I’m going to use today’s blog to let you know what I’ve been watching and also give you some recommendations. If you haven’t seen the movie “Zootopia” then you definitely need to add that to your to-do list, probably near the top right after “feed the kids” but before “take a shower.” It’s an animated film but one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s actually pretty funny and I found myself laughing out loud at these intriguing cartoon characters. Keeping with the animation theme I then watched “Sausage Party”, and while it was funny, this is not one that should be viewed by the entire family unless everyone in said family is an adult. It’s a great concept about items in a grocery store who dream about being taken to the great beyond (outside the store). They think it’s a magical place but when an item is returned with tales of what he saw, horror ensues in a very hilarious fashion.

When my brothers were here over the weekend we watched a couple of oldies, the first being “Dumb & Dumber.” While I’m sure most of you reading have already seen this one, it is definitely one worth going back and watching again, especially if you, like me, haven’t seen it in a few years. The other older movie we watched was “Uncle Buck”, one my brothers had never seen before, and until a few years ago, neither had I. It’s a John Hughes film, starring John Candy and Macauley Culkin before “Home Alone”. It is very funny and if you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it. It’s good for the whole family and features Culkin’s trademark child wit that will have you laughing throughout.

Last night my wife and I rented “War Dogs”, a movie that came out last year. It is a story based on true events about these two guys in Miami that make millions of dollars selling supplies to the military in the Iraqi war. Jonah Hill and his co-star, who’s name I’m forgetting at the moment, are fantastic in their roles and will keep you captivated throughout the entirety of the movie. A lot of films seem to hit dull spots, but this one is interesting and funny all the way through. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend picking it up at Redbox and giving it a try. Although it’s about events that happen during the war, it’s not an action movie and can be enjoyed by all mature audiences. I really do enjoy movies and my hope is that I can have a blog post on the subject every once in awhile keeping you apprised of what I’m watching and what I think you’d enjoy, so be sure to come back next time you’re looking for a good movie to watch and I’ll give you my amateur opinions.

Best Movie I’ve Been to in 3 Years

Today I went to the movies for the first time in more than three years, and it was fantastic. First off, it only cost me eight dollars, about forty-two dollars less than I was expecting movies would cost in 2017, so I was pumped about that. I walked over to the food counter and ordered the triple combo, popcorn, a drink and candy. What would I like to drink? Pibb Xtra of course, I am human after all. What candy would I like? Chocolate covered raisins. For as long as I can remember, raisinets have been my go-to movie theater candy, although for reasons I can’t explain, I absolutely despise raisins when they aren’t coated in chocolate. The girl at the counter asked me if that was a medium or large candy item, as if I were the one working and knew into which classification the snacks fell into. I told her it was on the middle shelf, the best possible answer I could come up with, but apparently it was not the one she was looking for. Her coworker arrived behind her and said it was a medium candy. After it was all said and done I spent $13.75 on the triple combo, which has got to be one of the biggest markups on a product that is sold here in the United States, but I’m not going to sit in a dark room like an idiot without eating anything, so I reluctantly paid the ridiculously high price for the snacks.

The movie I saw was “La la Land” and if you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it, although it’s probably not for everybody. It’s a musical and a love story so if you aren’t into that type of movie then I would definitely advise you to skip this one. Personally I like musicals, and this one was absolutely incredible. The songs were great and the musical score throughout the film was perhaps one of the best I’ve ever seen. The story of a jazz musician with dreams of one day opening a club and a wannabe actress who hadn’t had her big break yet was told perfectly. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone played the roles perfectly and it was a joy to watch. Their singing was really good, and Gosling playing the piano was definitely a pleasure to hear. It was the kind of movie that made me want to go out to a jazz club and be swept up in the passion of the musicians. Leaving the theater I searched for a jazz station on the radio but had no luck finding one, so I’ll definitely be downloading some to my iPhone in the near future. I don’t buy a lot of movies now that I have Netflix, but I will definitely purchase “La la Land” once it comes out on DVD. If I were rating it, I’d give it a ten out of ten, and I can say with absolute certainty, that it’s the best movie that I’ve been to in three years.