Movie Meme – Do you have a life? (My score: 56)

Memes are alive and well… on Facebook!  I took this one and figured I’d share it here as well.  As you can see, I do, indeed, have a life.  I guess I just needed some proof.

I’m not tagging anyone.  That’s so 2005. 

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SUPPOSEDLY if you’ve seen over 85 films, you have no life. Copy this list, go to your own blog and post it.  Mark the ones you’ve seen.

Oh and make sure you comment with your score!

There are 239 films on this list.  Have fun!
(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
() Pirates of the Caribbean
() Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
() Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total: 5

(x) The Princess Bride
(x) Anchorman
() Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
() Saw
( ) Saw II
( ) White Noise
( ) White Oleander
( ) Anger Management
( ) 50 First Dates
( ) The Princess Diaries
( ) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total: 2

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
() Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
( ) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
( ) Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
( ) American Pie 2
( ) American Wedding
( ) American Pie Band Camp
Total: 4

() Harry Potter 1
() Harry Potter 2
() Harry Potter 3
() Harry Potter 4
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
() Little Black Book
() The Village
() Lilo & Stitch
Total: 1

(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
() Signs
() The Grinch (J. Carrey version)
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
() Butterfly Effect
() 13 Going on 30
() I, Robot
() Robots
Total: 2

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
() Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
( ) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
() KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
() Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
() KING KONG 2000’s version
Total: 3

() A Cinderella Story
() The Terminal
() The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination
() Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
() The Ring 2
() Surviving X-MAS
() Flubber
Total: 3

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
() Hellboy
() Secret Window
() I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards
Total: 1

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child’s Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
() Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
() Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
() Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total: 6

() Bad Boys
() Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
() Ocean’s Eleven
() Ocean’s Twelve
() Bourne Identity
() Bourne Supremecy
() Lone Star
() Bedazzled
() Predator I
() Predator II
() The Fog
() Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total: 0

(x) Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
() Children of the Corn
() My Bosses Daughter
() Maid in Manhattan
() War of the Worlds (T. Cruise version)
(x) Rush Hour
() Rush Hour 2
Total: 3

() Best Bet
() How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
() She’s All That
() Calendar Girls
() Sideways
() Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
(x) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
() Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
() The Terminator 3
Total: 5

() X-Men
() X-2
() X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
() Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
() Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
() Reign of Fire
() The Skulls
() Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
() Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total: 5

() Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
(x) Old School
() The Notebook
() K-Pax
() Krippendorf’s Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
() The 40-year-old Virgin
Total: 2

() Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
() Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
() Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
() Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 2

() Baseketball
() Hostel
(x) Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
() Elf
() Highlander
() Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() Three
Total: 1

() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total: 2

() High Tension
() Club Dread
() Hulk
() Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
() Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
() 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total: 2

() Kill Bill vol 1
() Kill Bill vol 2
() Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
Total: 0

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total: 6

() The Matrix
() The Matrix Reloaded
() The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
() Team America: World Police
() Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
() Hannibal
Total: 1

GRAND TOTAL: 56

Rick’s note: It’s official… I do not like to see movies that much!

The weather outside is spiteful, but the year was fairly delightful.

Christmas in my Living Room

It’s December 23.  Christmas Eve Eve.  And it’s only one day into meterological winter.  

But you’d never know it with the way things have been in Chicago lately.  

No dreaming about a White Christmas this year.  We’re gonna have one.  Plain and simple.  We’ve had more snow and cold already… pre-winter… than in any year I can remember.  It’s caused tons of accidents, a few cold-related deaths, and lot of bursted pipes and radiators throughout the city. 

But thankfully, around here it’s been pretty nice.  The radiators work great, the hot water flows freely, and everything is warm and cozy.  

I guess there isn’t too much to complain about then, is there?

Truly, this winter – and the year that preceded it, has been pretty good.  Oh sure it had its rough spots (as all years do), but for the most part I look back on 2008 with a sense of happiness and fondness.  

As the year started, I decided it was time to concentrate on friendships.  I felt that I had not been a good friend to the ones I had, and did not open myself up to new friendships nearly enough.  As the year closes, I feel closer to my friends than ever before, and am proud to include a new group of people in my life as friends.  I have also reconnected with a lot of old friends (thanks mainly to Facebook), and have rekindled some friendships that never really died in the first place– but were just on hold for the past 10 or 15 years.  

Family has become even more important as well.  With the birth of my twin nieces, Abby and Emily, in February, my family has found a new reason to celebrate and love.  Their presence in our lives has given us such great joy, and watching them grow has already been so much fun.  As a result, my family is closer than ever, and it’s been incredibly rewarding.  

With the collapsing economy, I have become ever more thankful for the presence of work in my life.  I am thankful I am employed, and by such a good company.  I am treated fairly and paid well.  I can’t complain about that at all.  It’s a blessing to be employed.  

Money, however, has been my one major shortfall this year, and that is of my own doing.  In the next year, I need to trim the fat and live leaner and more within my means.  It’s going to be hard, and may require a lot of sacrifices, but I absolutely need to do this in order to survive into the next year with my head above water.  

All along, this blog has been there.  And while I haven’t been writing as much as I used to, it’s been a comfort to know that I can put my thoughts here and share them with you.  Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement over the years.  I really appreciate you, too.

So with that, I am signing off for 2008.  There’s lots of things going on between now and the New Year, so I don’t anticipate that I will post again until 2009.  

I wish you and your families and your friends a safe and wonderful holiday season, and a delightful new year.  Salute!


Definitive Holiday Songs

Each Holiday season, we are inundated with new releases by semi-new or washed-up artists trying to capitalize on the Holiday music phenomenon. And each year, many of these recordings either fade into the woodwork of bland reproductions of the same tired carols. But sometimes a shining star emerges and, while the entire album may not be full of hits, there is one beautifully performed number that stands out. Over time, this performance can emerge as what I like to call the “Definitive” version of that song.

Here, then, is my current list of Definitive Holiday Songs – the versions that, unlike no other, are the ones that make the song a true Holiday classic. Of course, this list is purely objective; so I encourage you to share your own personal list of Definitive Holiday Songs.

Here we go, in no particular order (links go to iTunes, unless otherwise noted):

1. The Christmas Song – Nat (King) Cole: The ultimate. Nothing can or will top this version, though many have tried. Cole’s soothing, silky baritone, coupled with the cascading strings and cool jazz band make this a holiday classic that can never be topped. One listen, and you know – it’s Christmastime.

2. O Holy Night – Johnny Mathis: As religious-themed carols go, this one is particularly majestic. Mathis’ soaring tenor, against Percy Faith’s stellar orchestra, define the beauty of this carol, yet they do it without being overly treacly or sappy. I’ve loved this version since I was a kid, and it still gives me goose bumps even today.

3. Jingle Bells – Ray Conniff and the Singers: It’s pretty simple sing-along fare, but I have yet to find a more complete version (4 verses!) of this song, and something about the arrangement just perfectly conveys the joy of jingling along in a sleigh when the snow is on the ground. Not that I’ve ever done that before, of course…

4. Silent Night – Mannheim Steamroller: The Steamroller has gotten a little rusty over the years, but this, from the first of their Christmas offerings, is probably the most moving and stunning versions of the carol I’ve ever heard.

5. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen/We Three Kings-  Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLachlan: This bouncy, free-spirited mashup came out a couple years ago and was the big hit of the season– and there’s a good reason why. It’s melodic and catchy, and still defines for me what the songs represent. Plus the joining of BNL and MacLachlan is perfect. I wish they’d do more together.

6. Merry Christmas Darling- Carpenters: The story goes that Karen and Richard Carpenter were students of Frank Pooler in the 1960s, and he gave the lyrics to “Merry Christmas, Darling,” which he had written in the 1940s, to Richard in hopes he could write a melody that suited them. The result is a beautiful Christmas classic that has long stood the test of time and will stand for many years to come. Karen’s vocals are stunning here. Frankly, anything that can help secure the legacy of the Carpenters is a gem in my eyes.

7. Step Into Christmas- Elton John: In the mid-70s, Elton John could do no wrong… so why wouldn’t he write a Christmas song? While some parts of the songs are a tad outdated (“Hop aboard my turntable,” for instance), the song still sounds fresh and fun even today.

8. Sweet Little Jesus Boy- Mahalia Jackson: Reverent and stirring, this spiritual carol is at once sparse and yet full of joy and wonder. Ms. Jackson’s voice is rich and booming; powerful, yet soothing. The chorus behind her is a little saccharine, but Mahalia makes up for it with her power.

9. Star of Wonder- The Roches: Relatively unknown, I first heard this song when I sang it with the Windy City Slickers a few years ago. The harmonies are stunning and thrilling- reminiscent of Imogen Heap- and the melody is beautiful. This SHOULD be a Christmas classic.

10. The Little Drummer Boy- Harry Simeone Chorale: The original and best, and no matter how many times this song is covered, none will ever touch this version.

11. Sleigh Ride – Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: Originally written as an instrumental by Leroy Anderson in 1948; the Boston Pops version is, and will always be, the definitive version of this song. The lyrics, written two years later in 1950, suit the song well, but I prefer to hear it without the lyrics. I get a better image of the song’s meaning that way.

12. Little St. Nick – The Beach Boys: Who would have guessed that The Beach Boys- the surfin’ guys from California- would have created such a Christmas classic? It’s one of those songs that just can’t be done by anyone else without sounding like a really bad idea.

13. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree- Brenda Lee: This song was probably controversial and even banned when it first came out, but today it’s as much a classic as “Silent Night” or “Jingle Bells.” Which reminds me, this one is often paired with….

14. Jingle Bell Rock- Bobby Helms: Although more “Rockabilly” than “Rock,” this has become a massive classic, and has been covered by countless artists over the years, including Hall and Oates, who had a minor hit with the song in the 80’s. But nothing compares to the original.

15. Mele Kalikimaka- Bing Crosby: A Hawaiian Christmas song? Of course! I’ve always enjoyed this sweet tune, and of course, nobody sings it like Bing (with the Andrews Sisters!)

16. White Christmas- Bing Crosby: The Voice of Christmas himself still owns the title to the definitive version of “White Christmas.” Nobody else can deliver those lines with such power.

17. The Twelve Days of Christmas- John Denver with The Muppets: The first time Miss Piggy sings, “Five… Goooolden… Riiings… Badum Bum Bum…” you know you’ve got a classic on your hands. This song is dreadfully boring without the voices of Jim Henson, Frank Oz and the rest of the Muppet Crew holding it up and making it FUN again!!!

18. Christmas Time Is Here- Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas and its soundtrack have become such a staple of Christmas music, it’s hard to imagine there was a time before it ever existed. Guaraldi’s jazzy, quiet arrangements and his incredible piano work are heard throughout the special and this album, and make this one of the all-time greats of Christmastime.

19. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Doris Day: America’s sweetheart sounds particularly sexy and sultry here… a tinkling piano and a jazzy arrangement make this holiday standard about more than just snow – it’s about romance and cuddling up with someone special. Now to find that someone special…

20. Santa Baby- Eartha Kitt: When it comes to sultry and sexy, nobody does it like Eartha Kitt… and nobody does Santa Baby like Ms. Kitt, either. The song was written for her and it shows. Growl!

And just for good measure…

21. Little Jack Frost- Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus (featuring a solo by Rick Aiello): (Amazon only) This holiday swing classic, first recorded by Frankie Carle in the 1940s, is done by CGMC with a vocal arrangement by Patrick Sinozich and a solo by some guy who writes in his blog every once in a while.  🙂

So that’s my list. There are others which could easily have made it, but I’m interested to hear what you have to say. Enjoy the music and have a Happy Holiday! 🙂

38

Some interesting facts about the number 38:

  • The number of slots on an American Roulette wheel (0, 00, and 1 through 36; European roulette does not use the 00 slot and has only 37 slots)
  • Bill C-38 legalized same-sex marriage in Canada
  • There are 38 surviving plays written by William Shakespeare.
  • My dad was born in 1938.
  • .38 Special was a popular country-rock group in the 80s and 90s.  Its name is derived from a rimmed, ceterfire cartridge (bullet) designed by Smith & Wesson, most commonly used in revolvers.
  • 38″ is my waist size.  A fact I’m not exactly proud of.
  • 37 and 38 are the first pair of consecutive positive integers not divisible by any of their digits.
  • 38 years ago today was December 12, 1970: the day I was born.

And I don’t feel a day over 18. 🙂