Saturday, November 10, 2018

Blogger: Premature Christmas Decorating

Whichever side you take in this debate, I invite you to read my take on how I deal with this every year. I am sure that you have an opinion, and I also know that most people believe that they have the right answer... my argument is simply that feelings cannot be decided by a date in a calendar, and you'll see what I mean in a second.

I live in Hungary, which means that we do not have Thanksgiving, and even if we adopted Halloween, it isn't really a tradition still, it was mostly the last 10 or 15 years that we started to celebrate, or show signs of it. Not to mention, that most people would still rather have a 'party' than celebrate it with the family, something that never occurred to me, as I take candy over alcohol and board games over dance parties any day of the year. I have almost always celebrated it, as you could guess, as my family was fond of American holidays since we lived there for a whole year, a year that had a great significance in the life of my siblings. My interest in American culture got deeper with time, I majored in U.S. history and culture, and still up to today I celebrate their holidays as I respect them tremendously. So even if most do not think that we need Thanksgiving, but have no problem adopting Black Friday... (in case you missed it, this is a comment on the fact that humanity is garbage!) I, on the other hand do make sure to give thanks to everything life has given me from the end of November to the end of the year.
And when it comes to my family, it is indeed Christmas that is the ultimate holiday. So what about putting up that Christmas tree early? I am very mad when I go into a shop looking for Halloween things, or even just a pumpkin lantern to put on my table, and a wall of Christmas decorations fall on me. My reason for that is that I find it to be incredibly disrespectful to other holidays. To some Halloween is dressing up and eating candy, to me it is a night when I remember those who I have lost. The importance of the Day of that Dead that follows is never lost on me, but all these decorations give the impression that we do not care. In Hungary it is held on November first, in many other countries it is the second; whichever you celebrate, I apologize for those who do give the impression that somethings can be overlooked. Especially because there is an important debate about how Christmas is too commercialized, and I believe that it is at these times that people do feel that. Another problem is that premature 'Christmas spirit' does not always last until the end of the holiday season... and I can tell you, nothing sucks as much as sitting under the tree with your family and not being able to enjoy it.

The key about Christmas spirit is that it cannot be controlled, it comes when it does, you can help it along, but that is it. There is something that moves inside of you when you see decorations everywhere and I understand if people are maddened if they are in a time of their life when this is absolutely the last thing they want to be feeling. However, whenever I hear that Americans believe that there is a war on Christmas, I would very much like to shove them in these stores in the middle of October, which I am sure will surprise many of them, seeing that they have two holidays in the middle...

Bob's Burgers
People hate me too, in case you are wondering reader, I like to wake up a week after Halloween and start listening to Christmas songs, but even if I share them on social forums, I do not force it onto other people. And I think this is the key problem: when every store has their decorations out mid-October, how do you avoid it? I understand why you are mad. However, if your friend finds that they need the Christmas spirit, for whatever reason (that is right, nobody owes you an explanation) then LEAVE THEM ALONE. First of all, you do not know anyone's real baggage or life story; what if they never celebrated before? Let it be for any reason, they let their heart open to the opportunity and then you immediately kick them down? What if you celebrate National Talk Like a Pirate Day, or National Pancake Day, would you like if people kept kicking you for it? "Well Jim, I think you have had enough for today, argh!" When you think about it, the reason there is freedom of religion in the first place means that we acknowledge that people need and love somethings that you might not - this difference is often the reason we make the world better, so we should embrace it. And if one wishes to believe in Christmas, you need to respect that. A person's church is made up by their own definitions, you are not meant to understand it.
Second, as this holiday is a hard time all around, you might learn new things that open your approach to how you celebrate it. Hating on it will not help it make better, especially because you will probably not change the reasoning behind stores putting out trees, lights, wrapping paper and all that comes with it way early. If you think about it, it might be radical to me comparing it to religion, but really, nobody minds another person's beliefs until they force it on them. If I, for example, want to put up my tree right now, who is going to stop me? I need that little bit of cheer in my life and I know it will make me happy. Does a grumpy person's war with commercialism come before my own happiness? It should not. A friend of mine just posted on facebook the following meme: "Me waiting for it to be socially acceptable to put up the Christmas tree", with the grizzly bear sitting at the picnic table, and you know what, there is no rule that stipulates this. Society cannot define what I feel, and Christmas is essentially a feeling.

Third, what could be the causes for involuntary Christmas spirit? Besides the shops, the lights and the music in the background, I can tell you for sure that if you are preparing presents for your family and friends, you will not be strong enough. However, if you are starting to make presents in November, you probably don't want to be strong either. Also, if you have a friend like me, I might rub off on you, but I am house trained, so you'll be okay.

A gift from my sister.
And finally, how to escape it? You can't. The only thing you can do is not worry about it more than you should, because even if you try to tell somebody WHY you think it is wrong, they won't care, the same way you don't care about them putting up the tree sooner. So my advice to you is to let it go and not kick those who, for one reason or another, need it in their life. I do agree that stores are out of control, and I do agree that it is completely unnecessary, even if somebody likes to avoid crowds, they probably shop online and go at the beginning of December, not in October (and year round Christmas shops do exist for this specific reason!). I will, however, always stand for the idea that nobody, and I mean nobody, has a right to tell me or anyone else what kind of decorations they can put up in their own homes. And if you take my advice, you'll leave people alone too. 

Have a super happy and successful holiday season!

Usual movie reviews coming back soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What's Next On My List? Over The Garden Wall

Over the years my sister and I have become fond of 'coming of age' stories, because we found that there is a lot to be learned about how each story is told. To me this one is just as wonderful as Labyrinth or Where The Wild Things Are, by taking us onto a journey into the unknown and making sure we never forget this adventure!

Two brothers, Wirt and Greg, get lost in the forest on Halloween night, and encounter a series of unlikely creatures and beings that inhabit these mystical lands. They are, however, also trying to flee a beast who tries everything he can to trick them into staying the woods forever. It is Wirt's wish to make sure Greg gets back home safe the thing that saves them in the end.

I was scared terribly when I watched this the first time around, although it was balanced out very well: some funny episodes followed others with significant depth to them. The beast itself is something I would hate to encounter ever in my life, which means that it truly embodies everything a child would be terrified about. Overall I was moved by the simplicity of the conflict between Wirt and Greg, and by that I mean, that most siblings need to arrive to the conclusion that their brothers and sisters are not to be blamed for the decisions of our parents. In the story we find out that the boys are only related through their mom, and Wirt's parents had gotten divorce previously. I have found it endearing that the one who already feels in some ways the weight of life finds it easy to blame the innocent boy who does everything out of sheer interest for the world. No fear, no crippling anxiety, just wonder. That is probably why this pair is perfect: as the audience you have the same questions as Wirt, the same worries over getting lost in an unknown place. At the same time, you'd like to wonder around and discover like Greg does. The two main characters are spectacularly written in my opinion, not just as opposites, but as two sides of the same coin.
There is of course an implication, that this adventure wasn't all in Wirt's head, despite it serving the purpose of him 'coming to age', and no longer misplacing his anger and taking responsibility for his brother; we are still introduced in great depth to all the people they encountered, and we begin to care, wishing to see if they find their happy ending as well.
Ultimately this story is about facing the beast within, and I find that this somewhat creepy but magical world that we are introduced to serves as a perfect metaphor for that moment in many of our lives when we decide to take back control from the voice in our heads. These two boys will do everything they can to take care of each other, and I think that is a great lesson. I do believe that blood doesn't bind us, meaning that even somebody within your family can be a toxic force, but it wasn't the case between these two. And the fact that it all occurred on the night of Halloween makes this story perfect for this year's review of mine.

Watch it? Definitely. You will laugh, cry, be scared and root like never before to have these little heroes reach their goal. It is only 10 episodes of ten minutes, think of it as a good movie, and trust me, it'll be your favorite too! I would like to thank the writers and creators Katie Krentz and Patrick McHale for giving us this lovely story.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Wirt - Elijah Wood
Greg - Collin Dean
Beatrice Melanie Lynskey
The Beast - Samuel Ramey
The Woodsman - Christopher Lloyd

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What's Next On My List? Catch Me If You Can

I still remember the day I saw this movie: we were at a little open cinema by lake Balaton, and I remember that I was in awe. I believe that was the day I kind of grew up, and by that I mean that I developed a new kind of appreciation for movies, and I wished to see stories that were more intriguing with real moral values.

Frank Abagnale Jr. runs away from home when his parents are getting a divorce, and he puts all he learned from his conman father to use in order to take care of himself. He cheats and lies his way into high end jobs that procure him enough money to run away from the FBI as long as he can, however, one agent, Carl Hanratty, decides that he will not stop until he is brought to justice.

I gotta say, this is not really a review, as this is my absolutely favorite movie of all time and there is no criticism I can think of, and as such I will not even try to look for anything. This movie is a masterpiece in my opinion.
Up to today this is my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie as well. I have said this before, but I am not a fan of his... ever since he started acting with the same directors, he barely does anything new... I feel like I am just staring at the same person yelling and swearing in different outfits and times. I also feel like he has a baby face, and in this movie he plays a 16 year old boy who tries to appear older and it works for me. And on that note, this is also my favorite Tom Hanks movie (along with You've Got Mail), and it was the first time I did not see actors, I was just watching a great story unravel. I like the jumps in time, I like the colors, the set up, the little details, from the Pan Am airline all the way to the little town in France.
The script is based on the real life events of the man who managed to con his way into being a pilot, doctor and a prosecutor, only to end up being an agent himself, helping the FBI catch guys like him. And I don't know if I am happy that we were rooting for a con-man, but for the first time ever, the actual motivations make sense to me: he just didn't want to face the divorce of his parents. He didn't kill anyone, he tried to not hurt the ones he really cared for, and the love he had for his dad never stopped, not once. In the end, at least in the story told in the movie, he just spent money he did not have. What Frank was good at is reading people, something he learned from his father, and if he didn't become a conman, he would have been a great businessman in my opinion. Nonetheless, to me the fact a boy wishes to run away from his problems is very relatable.

Watch it? Oh my god, you haven't seen it yet? This movie came out sixteen years ago and won lots of awards, get it together man and watch it NOW! Every single actor you love today appears in this movie, so you'll love it for sure.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _

Frank Abagnale Jr. - Leonardo DiCaprio
Carl Hanratty - Tom Hanks
Frank Abagnale - Christopher Walken
Roger Strong - Martin Sheen
Paula Abagnale - Nathalie Baye
Brenda Strong - Amy Adams

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Blogger: I am a Game Grumps lovely

It has been six years since the Youtube let's play page of the Game Grumps launched and I have been a fan since the first video was posted ever. I have been putting off this entry for one very simple reason: I did not know how to begin it. The reason for that is that the more time passed the more history there was for me to cover in order for my readers to understand what and who am I talking about - and I just got lost. The reason I did manage to sit down now to write it is quite simple, the two hosts of the show, Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, decided to review their wikipedia pages and share information about their lives, which means that I do not have to write it down myself, but you can listen to it here: (If after reading my entry you have questions, you'll find the answers here.)

In that vain, I am only going to share what you need to know about in order to understand why I am writing about this to begin with. I linked every Youtube page you need (just click on the green names!), if you are interested. You need to know that they call their own fans lovelies, and being a huge fan myself, I decided to entitle this entry as such. And I have had other open letter style entries before, so that is what I am going for now too. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and checking out the work of these amazing guys. So here we go:

About eight years ago, not long after it was posted, my brother and sister found "The Decision", a song by Ninja Sex Party (composed of Dan Avidan and Brian Wecht), that was simply everything we look for in music and comedy. We became fans immediately and after that my brother showed us some animations by Egoraptor (Arin Hanson), and told us that another song of NSP was made by Arin, "Dinosaur Laser Fight".

When Game Grumps started, it was the first and up to today really the only Let's Play channel that I watch. When I moved in alone, every single night I would just listen to these guys being silly before going to bed and they got me smiling and made me just so happy to be alive. They had sort of spin-off shows, with Steam Train led by Ross O'Donovan (RubberNinja) and with their friends appearing on the show as well. Arin's wife Suzy Berhow has her own let's play channel (among many other awesome things she does), KittyKatGaming where most boys make appearances along with other Youtubers from various channels. They have another collective channel, GrumpOut which is used to post everything that is not game related, but belongs to them, from interviews to reviews and incredibly silly but well done trailers. (Everything else you need to know is in the wiki episodes linked above!)

Now... why am I writing about them? These guys feel like family to me. I have to say, of all things, this is the one channel that makes me happy that Youtube exists in the first place. I might never have enough money to go see them live, even if the come back to Europe, but no matter what happens, I know that I will have their videos all the time - even if they stop, I can rewatch from the beginning anytime I wish. I keep trying to explain to others why I like their videos, and I guess the answer is that I like them as people. On a few occasions I am lucky and they also play a game that I am interested in, but in reality, I just care for these guys, as rarely do I go and watch other let's plays (and by rarely, I mean never). I do care about why Arin would rather be a voice actor, then to make animation; I love the stories of Dan's family; I do want to know why they critique certain games that are considered classics; I love it when they die of laughter on the dumbest of jokes, and I also love when they get serious and share stories about depression and exhaustion and everything in between. Because of the personal nature of their talks I feel close to them, and based on the traffic on their channel, I am sure I am not the only one.

The reason I am writing this post is to say Thank You. I am sure the guys get this a lot, but I do feel like the saved me several times. The best thing I can say about them is that they are here for me always, figuratively, and the sense of knowing that helps me through small struggles in my everyday life. 

I comment very rarely on their page, so I want to do it here right now: first, the fact that a lot of viewers hated on Suzy f*cking drove me mad. She is super awesome and fun and you guys are misogynistic assholes who clearly cannot handle smart women doing great. She is a goddamn treasure and I loved every single video she appeared on (and the Metal Gear V playthrough with Arin was my favorite series of all time!). Second, people called Dan homophobic over disliking a disgusting character giving a blowjob... and just wow, how dare you call him that? There is a specific video where he says that they wrote "If We Were Gay" for a friend of theirs whom they cared for deeply, not to mention the hundreds of jokes and caring comments about loving everyone out there like... I do not want to be the kind of person who tries to define what a 'real fan' is, even if there is such a thing, but I will go as far as assuming those people do not know these two at all.

And if I were to comment, I would say that I am proud of them, I love the songs - both NSP and Starbomb -, I love the new projects, from Guild Grumps to Good Game (read my review here!), with the podcasts and the 10 Minute Power Hour introduced this year. They put everything they have into their work and they inspire me in more ways than I can count. I would also ask them to have a guest grumps with the VlogBrothers and Shane, among many others.

And as I said, I would just like to thank them. So, here is the best chance for that! Thank you to both of you for what you do, it might have been a dream for you too, but I sure know that I am better for being able to be part of this adventure. Keep up the good work!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _

Follow them here:

And for even more, I suggest you read this article by The Washington Post, written about Ninja Sex Party's appearance on Conan. You can also watch it here!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What's Next On My List? Closer

I am still torn when it comes to this movie. I have now seen it three times at very different stages of my life and I think for the first time I get it, or, to be more exact, it made me understand what lesson I can take away from it.

It is the story of four people whose life keeps intertwining over the span of a couple of years, as lies keep them tangled together.

I paid special attention to the men in this story this time around. They are shown as the two sides of the same coin, really, one being over sensitive and the other a brute force that comes in an smashes everything in its way. There was one sentence in particular that stayed with me, when Larry tells Anna that she is pushing him away because she thinks "she doesn't deserve happiness". When I first saw the movie I was perhaps even too young to understand why people cheat, or even try to understand that there is usually an emotional and a psychological reason behind it. I resented these characters, and I was not specifically looking for the romantic comedy ending, I just simply hated the fact that these people defined their feelings as 'love'. Because to me this wasn't and still isn't love. What it really was is, I believe, at least when looking at Dan and Anna: self-sabotage. They both did manage to find someone who complimented all their little stupid things, and still refused it, still fought for what they cannot have. Now, for the first time since I ever saw the movie I liked Larry, the brutish, supposedly evil man who manipulates Anna into getting back together with him. I liked him because he acted out of pain: he did not cause Dan harm until he did it to him. And even after that he decided to put Anna's well being in front of everything, because even if she is getting back with him out of pity, or something like that, he just knew that the one who would make her happy isn't the weak romantic Dan, but he is. And I honestly believed that after seeing this movie so many times, that Anna will learn to be happy with Larry and he will treat her right, in a sense, the end justified the means.
And now let us turn to Dan. I do not wish to further analyze the girls for one simple reason: I do not think the story was really about them. I find that Dan tried to be so much more than Larry, to be romantic, and caring, a dreamer, he is someone who Alice never had in her life, but ultimately he isn't that person. This is shown on different levels. First, he doesn't smoke but picks it up again, then he starts wearing contact lenses, he cares about his appearance in a way that he did no before. Third, he continuously compares himself to Larry, he wants everyone to know how much better he is just because of his sensitive side. And in the end, he hits Alice, he becomes worse than he was to start off with. He had lost the fight to be the more caring person when he became physical with Alice. Larry might have been rude and brutish indeed, but he never said something and then acted differently, as opposed to Dan, nor did he ever lay hands on the girls, even if he did not hide his intention of it. However, but taking action that way, Dan lost the battle of who is truly 'better' in his sense of the word.

"- Why did you leave?
- Problems with a male.
- Boyfriend?
- Kind of.
- And you left him, just like that?
- It's the only way to leave. 'I don't love you anymore. Goodbye.'
- Supposing you do still love them?
- You don't leave.
- You've never left somebody you still love?
- No."

I do not know what exactly the moral of the story was, what I do know that having grown quite a bit since I first ever saw this movie, I just know that there is a very complicated psychology behind someone who is able to cheat on someone, and those who desire it as well. That is probably one of the reasons why Dan is not such a good guy after all, see, Larry cheated too, but he did not try and hide behind a mask of caring and love, but admitted that what he had done was wrong. Dan essentially went around and hurt everyone and still felt like he was the one who was victimized. One can argue with me all they want, but Larry was a simple man, who is sometimes driven by what is in his pants, it is just that easy. As sad as it is, for some people cheating comes as second nature, as they are able to differentiate sex and love. Dan's character wasn't like that, that is why it was a much larger betrayal on his part, at least in my opinion. Nonetheless, re-watching the movie showed me some new aspects of the story, and I think I got away from it a much different lesson then I did the first two times I watched and will the next time I do again.

Watch it? I just don't know how to answer that question. I waited a long time for it and I know I just didn't get it the first time. But it remained with me: I have read other reviews that showcased that it is almost impossible to pinpoint what is good about the movie, but it stays with you, you think about it, you reanalyze it, and to me the fact that I want to re-watch it every now and then is proof that perhaps the good elements are just so f*cking good that it shadows anything that might not questionable. If you haven't seen it yet, I would give it a go, if you'll like or not, I cannot say.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Dan - Jude Law
Larry - Clive Owen