Best Feel Good Movies

ANCHORMANSometimes life just grinds you down and makes you want to lay on the sofa eating humus and pita chips. Maybe you feel sad or bored or mad or… just plain old bummed. I’ve put together a small collection of some of my favorite movies for getting me out of a funk. If you want to be in a better mood, then try watching one of these movies. Everyone needs an escape now and then.

**Please note that not all of these movies are your typical “feel good” movies. It sometimes makes me feel really good to watch a bad guy get his ass handed to him. Other times it makes me happy to see Adam Sandler yell at a golf ball. It just depends on my mood. This is just a short list and by all means not comprehensive. I’ll try to sprinkle a little variety on top for ya, but feel free to leave your own favorite Feel Good Movies in the comments.**

  1. Anchorman – No matter how many times I see this movie I still end up laughing. Of all the silly Will Ferrell movies, this is my favorite. Steve Carrell is hilarious.
  2. Julie & Julia – This movie features Meryl Streep as Julia Child. That should be reason enough to see it. But, if you are looking for a movie that just makes you happy, this is it. Great performances and it is based on a true story. A woman blogs her way through Julia’s famous cookbook. While doing so, we are treated to flashbacks of Julia’s life in France and how she got started cooking. A really fun movie.
  3. The Princess Bride –
    PB reunion shot

    PB reunion shot

    This is the definition of “Feel Good Movie”. Pirates. Battles. Sword fights. Andre the Giant. Mandy Patinkin. Christopher Guest. R.O.U.S’s. And yes, there is kissing. But we can skip that part if you want.

  4. Stick It – I watch this movie when I am feeling lethargic and like eating all of the ice cream. Watching a bunch of super fit athletes (they used real gymnasts in the film along side the actors) workout makes me feel like working out. Sometimes it works! This movie is like “Bring it On” but with gymnastics and Jeff Bridges instead of cheerleading and Kirsten Dunst.
  5. The 40 Year Old Virgin – I had this movie on DVD when I moved to Prague. I must have watched it at least 100 times that first year. It was the only movie (in english) that we had access to. It was funny every single time.
  6. Romancing the Stone53romancing-the-stoneThis one  is perfect to watch when you are feeling like life is boring and blah. Nothing can kick-start my need for getting out-of-town like this one. I love watching Joan Wilder outwit crocodiles, drug smugglers, evil kidnappers and Danny DeVito. It’s super campy and 80’s and that’s why I love it.
  7. The Shawshank Redemption – There isn’t much I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. It’s great. The idea that a man can stay true to himself and be awesome under the worst of situations is why we go to the movies. We want to see Red get of jail and find his friend Andy waiting for him on the shores of a Mexican beach. We want to believe that we can do better. If this movie doesn’t make you feel a little happy then maybe you should try harder.
  8. Grosse Point Blank – I love comedy mixed with explosions and gun fights. I love shoot outs that involve mini-marts. I like Jeremy Piven and John Cusack together. This movie has a little something for everyone. It’s funny, violent, sweet and it features Dan Aykroyd as a professional assassin and a super badass soundtrack. What’s not to love? 
  9. Little Miss Sunshine – Much like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” got me through Prague that first year, this movie got me through living in Mexico. I was fairly  isolated there, and I didn’t have a car. And I didn’t have any money. (Teachers in Mexico make even less than teachers in Prague) I spent a lot of time in my little apartment amusing myself by watching movies. I couldn’t get reliable internet there so I was limited to DVDs until my neighbor and fellow teacher/friend got a Blockbuster card. Whoo hoo! Until then I had just a handful of movies to watch. I watched this one a lot. It made me happy every time.
  10. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior – I love old school kung-fu movies, and karate movies. Sure I liked Crouching Tiger, but seeing people flying on wires doesn’t impress me as much as watching badass dudes do amazing things physically. I think that’s why I like watching Ninja Warrior. Tony Jaa performs all of his own stunts in this movie. It’s crazy good. The story doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that you get to see beautiful shots of Thailand and watch Jaa do crazy things with his body. It’s beyond impressive. 

Things I’m Loving: Spring Edition

hannibal_nbc_130301As promised, here is the yin to my yang. Things I am loving right now. This is the partner to yesterday’s article – Things I am over.

  1. Hannibal (TV Show) – Are you watching this? If not, you should be. It takes the characters we all know and love from the books (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon) and gives them history. A creepy, strange history. We get to see Hannibal before he was “The Cannibal” and watch him be a doctor, a mentor, and wonder if he is a killer. You’ll see lot’s of death, blood and highly disturbing things on this show, just be warned, but it’s awesome. Starring Madds Mikkelsen as everybody’s favorite chef, and Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford – FBI, it’s tons of fun to watch. It’s the kind of show actors beg to be a part of. Again, if you have a low tolerance for gross, then you might skip it.
  2. Hiking: 0410-youcan-hiking-0008It’s free. It’s outside. It’s fun. It’s exercise! Hiking is for sure something I am loving right now. There are hiking trails near where you live, I promise. This handy web site tells you local trails, and lets you review them. I usually don’t read reviews from folks online, but in this case it was helpful. Gyms (for the most part) here in the states are expensive and designed more for getting your money than maximizing your health. Well, with hiking you don’t have to worry about monthly fees and gross muscle dudes watching you from the mirrors. Nope. You just have to worry about the weather.
  3. Music from “Nashville” (TV show)Some of my favorite current music is from this show. T-Bone Burnett is the guy in charge of it all, if that tells you anything. They have cast great singers (for the most part) and the songs are great. Check out Maisy and Lennon Stella for instance. Two little girls (sisters) who sing great harmonies and just finished playing the Grand Ol Opry. They are crazy good. I also really enjoy the musc by Clare Bowen (Scarlett on the show) She is an Australian actress and singer and she kills it. I listen to these songs in the shower or just hanging around the house. Thsese songs easily make the jump frpm screen to real life. Hayden Panettiere has a top single on the Country charts. Check it out. 
  4. Brother DegeHard blues. That’s what I’d call it. If you like the sound of a steel guitar and old school blues and folk, then this is your man. He did some of the music for D’jango Unchained and he is awesome. Here, have a listen. 
  5. Purging my shit: I don’t have a lot of extra shit in my life. Well, I didn’t before I came back to the states. Something about America makes you want to go shopping. Well, no more! I have been having a great time throwing away anything that has no use in my life, or is unnecessary. My world feel less cluttered and my house looks nicer, and I am very aware of what I buy and what space it will take in my life. I am a Nomad, and Nomads don’t have room for twelve pairs of shoes, a TV, and a full wardrobe. Purge!

The 5 Best Shows You Aren’t Watching

I don’t own a television. I haven’t owned one since 2005. It’s not that I don’t like T.V shows, it’s that I don’t like having to pay cable companies in order to watch them. So I don’t. I watch the shows I like on-line. That way I can keep up with American Idol, Downton Abbey and The Biggest Loser commercial free, cable free, and hell, just free! It also makes me very mindful of what I watch. I can’t just turn it on and see “what’s on”. I have to make a conscious decision to watch television. After I decide what I want to watch (if anything) I have to find it online, and then stream it. It’s still super fast and easy, but I don’t end up wasting time on crap TV like The Real Housewives of Who the Fuck Cares, or Zooey Deschanel in “The Zaney Adventures of a 33-year-old Woman Desperately Trying to Convince the World and Herself that she is 25… Which is also a rip off of Three’s Company”… or whatever it’s called.

You can stream all of these shows on-line. Or on TV or whatever you do to watch shows.

  1. Anthony Bourdain: The Layover (The Travel channel) – url-2Take Anthony Bourdain, give him a film crew and a 24 hour layover in a cool city and see what happens. It’s awesome. It not only inspires you to check out new places in a city you might already know (or live in!), but you get to feel super cool if he talks about one of your favorite places. He spends time talking to locals about their favorite spots to take visitors. He asks cab drivers where to get the best street food. He gets wasted at a tiki lounge with another chef. It’s all very good fun. Check it out.
  2. Shameless (Showtime)????????????????????You think you have a fucked up family? This show (starring William H. Macy as “Frank Gallagher”. The world’s worst, and I mean WORST, alcoholic/drug abusing father. Ever.) gives dysfunction a whole new name. And that name is Gallager. But this show isn’t for the faint of heart, or folks who can’t stand to hear toddlers drop the F-bomb. And that’s saying nothing about the nudity, violence, barf inducing filth or, graphic sex scenes between any number of people of any varied race, gender, age or sexual orientations. I’ll just say there is an awesome lack of dignity in this show, and I love it. It’s funny, over the top, and even sweet at times.
  3. Louie (FX) – This show is like walking inside Louie CK’s mind. It’s funny, sweet, sad and often times uncomfortable. Louie tackles every subject you can think of: kids, single fathers, drinking, working, sloth, dating, assholes, pizza, crazy people, New York City, religion… You get the picture. If you are not a fan of Louis CK yet, then you haven’t watched this show.  Here’s a little bit. 
  4. King of the Nerds (TBS)22588_001_0358_R (1)That’s right, NERDS! It’s a reality based game show that pits nerd against nerd in wacky nerd based challenges like life-size chess, and live gaming. They all live together in “Nerdvana” and compete to see who will sit atop the Throne of Games! I know! Of course there are some totally hate-able and obnoxious freaks who you hope get voted away quickly, but the show also has contestants who work for NASA and are brain surgeons and shit like that. It’s a show that let’s the “nerds” show off their unique talents and show us that they are more than just characters in a silly movie. Speaking of which, the show is hosted by Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine. If you don’t know who they are, then you don’t deserve to be called a nerd.
  5. The Taste (ABC)la-dd-the-taste-recap-20130129-001Yes, another cooking game show. I know. But this is my first! I never got into Top Chef, and I occasionally check out Iron Chef, but nothing solid. This show has a twist. Four “Mentors” blind taste each contestants food and judge it purely on taste. With ONE BITE. Only. They don’t know if it is a man or woman, pro chef or home chef – they just get one bite, and that’s it. Only after they vote do they see who cooked it. It’s pretty good fun. It made me both hungry and want to cook, so that’s good. And the “mentors” are Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, Anthony Bourdain and Brian Malarkey. The banter is good, the food looks good and the competition is fierce.

Why TOSH Rape Joke Wasn’t Funny

I’m no prude when it comes to comedy. If the comedian is smart enough and has good timing, then I think just about anything can be funny. I have heard Louis C.K. say some funny shit about gays and parents, and I have heard Sarah Silverman say funny things about the holocaust and Martin Luther King Jr. The topics themselves are not off-limits, but should be left to the professionals – people who understand irony and satire.

When I read about this TOSH dude and his “rape joke” troubles, I was immediately pissed off. First, because now women who get pissed are gonna get a bad rap. Like “oh, here come the feminists who can’t take a joke…” I CAN take a joke if the joke is funny and actually a joke.

Which brings me to the second thing –  what he said wasn’t a joke, it was an invitation. For those of you even more out of the loop than me, here is what happened. TOSH was doing his act, and a lady heckled him. Later in his show he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl [referring to the audience member who “heckled” him about rape jokes not being funny earlier in his set] got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”

That was not only unfunny, but it was personal and pointed. And inciting. He was encouraging a gang rape all because he isn’t a clever enough comedian to think on his feet. His “joke” targeted victims and perpetuate male dominance as a way to shut women up. Not to mention it makes him a the comedic equivalent of an 8-year-old kid. His come back was something that you might see on The Maury Povich Show. Only people with base senses of humor, little brains or creativity need to resort to something like violence to make their point. He might as well have said, “Oh yeah lady? Well, you’re ugly.” or “If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna tell mom!”

If you are a comedian you need to be prepared for hecklers. That’s part of the job. If you tell rape jokes that aren’t funny, you had better be prepared for criticism. Maybe this Tosh douche needs to find a new line of work. He doesn’t know funny. Because, as Sarah Silverman said, “Obviously no woman ever asks to be raped… I think there are some women who are asking to be motor boated…”

Things I Find Funny

Luis C.K., Richard Pryor, Parks and Recreation, THIS video, The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, South Park, The Simpsons, Hepburn & Tracey, George & Gracie, Lucy & Ricky, Lucy & Ethel.

When people tell you about their horrible flight as if they are the first and only people to sit next to a screaming kid for 12 hours, when news casters are obviously trying not to laugh, 

Bob & Bing, 40 Year Old Virgin, my boyfriend when he makes fart sounds every time someone bends over on a T.V show, people who wear Crocs and say “Don’t judge me…”, Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, Amy Poehler, The Muppets, watching drunk girls yell “This is my SONG!”, Peter Sellers , Mark Twain, Danny Kaye, “Elders React” videos, This website 

Racing pigs, Baby Monkey riding on a pig and the catchy song and video that go wth it, when people say “That’s SO interesting…” and then change the subject, Chuck Jones cartoons, Maude, All in the Family, Three’s Company, Don Knotts, kittens

“Study” Abroad programs, girls who order “diet” rum and coke, poetry jams, watching kids hear another kid fart, Niki Minaj

Snoop Dogg, Tina Fey, Wes Anderson, Ben Stiller, slow claps, goth kids day at Disneyland, fetish kids, hipster kidsButters, Ron Swanson, people who get really mad during board games, blooper reels, Mommie Dearest, Groundhog Day, Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks, Ice T on Law & Order SVU, Chris Meloni in “White Hot American Summer” 

The Weather Girls singing “It’s Raining Men”, Morrissey’s voice, the fact that The Insane Clown Posse are evangelical Christians, Sarah Palin, animals on surfboards, when Jason Segel sings a Dracula Rock Opera in “Forgeting Sarah Marshall”, puns, socks and sandals.

All things Christopher Guest related, Mockumentaries, the term “loose slots”, Nickelback, “Flight of the Conchords”, people who are overly sensitive about The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Grateful Dead or Bob Dylan,  ladies who use the word “Daddy” on their boyfriend or husband, men who spend more time on their hair than in the shower, Jane Lynch, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, These comedians talking about what is funny, this kitten

Reruns of 90210, Tori Spelling, Werner Herzog talking about a chicken, Family Guy, Myrna Loy & William Powell, when Miley Cyrus says “I’m just being Miley” in one of her own songs, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis movies, Tim Meadows, Tina Fey, and this video… 

5 T.V. Show Characters I Wish Were Real So We Could Be Friends

I love T.V. From the great shows like M*A*S*H and The Soprano’s to the not so great shows like People’s Court and Toddlers and Tiaras – I love T.V. I try not to watch a lot of it, or at least I don’t let myself overindulge until I have gotten all of my productive daily bull-poop out-of-the-way. (I.E. go to the gym, the store, pay bills, do laundry…) Once all the humdrum life stuff is over I can sit back and relax with a few old friends and some new ones. It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while a T.V. show comes along that has somebody that I wish was real so I could hang out with them and have a beer. Here’s my top five T.V folks I’d like to hang with.

  1. Leslie Knope & Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation)The first time I watched this show I was in love. It had been a while since I had seen a network sitcom with smart and funny characters. Although I like all of the folks in Pawnee, I would definitely be friends with Leslie and Ron. I would totally go to the gay bar with Leslie and then have some after hours waffles. And it goes without saying that I would love nothing more than to chow down on a fat steak with Mr. Ron Swanson. He is the badass that I dream of becoming someday.
  2. Chris Stevens (Northern Exposure) – Again, here is another example of a series in which I would love to hang out with all of the characters – equally. I mean, I would love nothing more than to spend a day with Holling doing a paint-by-number, or hanging out with Ed and discussing our mutual love for Woody Allen films. I have even fantasized about having a fling with Maggie. But, if I was hard pressed to choose one from this most awesome of television shows, I’d chose Chris in the Morning. Duh. He is my television soul mate. He’s hot. He’s dangerous. He reads and writes poetry. He rides a motorcycle. He is a reformed bad boy. He has great taste in music. I can’t count the time I have wished I could go to The Brick and shoot a game of pool with him while discussing the hidden undertones in “Where the Wild Things Are”. Or maybe just make out with him in his trailer. 
  3. Phil Dunphy (Modern Family) – I know. It would have been so easy for me to choose either Cam or Mitch, but honestly, I feel like I DO hang out with them in real life. But, I don’t know anyone quite like Phil Dunphy. He has a pure heart, an awesome sense of humor, and a great love for his family. I don’t know how he handles being married to that skinny-butt control freak, but I love him all the more for it. I feel like it would be so much fun to take Phil Dunphy out for a night of karaoke.
  4. Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Show)It has been a life long dream of mine to appear as a special guest on the Muppet Show. I just want to hang back stage with Kermit for a while before I go on stage for my number with The Great Gonzo. We do a killer rendition of “Easy Lover”.
  5. Lucy Ricardo (I Love Lucy) – When I was making this list I thought about a lot of characters that are near and dear to me (Buffy, Mulder, Hawkeye Pierce, Tony Soprano…) but when it came down to it, I didn’t want to spend any time with them. Spending the day with George or Jerry might make me want to kill myself. Spending the day with Buffy might make me feel really insecure. But one character finally came to mind – Lucy. How much fun would it be to be “Ethel” for a day and have some crazy hijinks ensue? Any day spent with Lucy would be so much fun, and heck maybe Ricky would finally let us be in the show.