Continuing to make life interesting

I’ll never be one to say that New Year’s is overrated.

It’s a significant time. Not only do you literally flip the calendar, but it offers us the opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, and how much our life really changed, if at all, during them.

Did our careers progress? Did we find love? Did we do something new or go somewhere we’ve never been before?

Or did we do nothing, and realize that we wasted another year?

The beauty of aging is that the older we get, the more we come to appreciate the true significance of time. When 2015you’re 20 years old, and you think of something you want to do, you can shrug it off and say, “Eh, I’ll do it later in life.”

But when you’re 27, and think that same thing, you realize that if you’re not going to do it now, then when will you? Now is the time to embrace life. Not tomorrow. Now.

I realized that this year, and because of it, I had a heck of a 2014. I entered another continent for the first time. I basically spent my summer musical festival hopping. I eat Indian food now. And I’m excited to try new experiences in 2015.

New Year’s is obviously the time when you think about these things. Since I had a good year, I am viewing New Year’s Day 2015 very positively. People who didn’t have such a good year might view it otherwise.

Another thing about aging is that you put less stock into what you do to celebrate New Year’s. In the past, it was important to make plans well in advance. You had the energy to do it, so why not embrace it?

Now, I realize that every one around me basically had the same attitude about the coming holiday, which was bordering on feigned indifference. We pretend that we don’t care. And we really don’t, actually, until Dec. 28 rollsblowing-party-horn1 around, and the prospect of doing nothing for New Year’s becomes a frightening possibility.

I say that I’m not alone in this fear because, in the past two days alone, I’ve been invited to not one, not two, but three “last-minute New Year’s parties.” Meaning, they were conceived in the last 48 hours.

Never before had I even been invited to one such belatedly produced celebration. This year — three. Clearly, not a single person I am friends with actually made plans in advance. And what’s the similarity between all the people that I am friends with? They’re all in their late 20s.

Is this a lesson that, come future Decembers, means more planning should be done in advance? No. I don’t think so. This is what we do now.

Hey, we may not be partying until 4 or 5 a.m. on New Year’s Eve like the 21- and 22-year-olds, but, us late 20-somethings will have a hell of a lot more interesting things to talk about when we unite to ring in the New Year.

And we can only hope that, come future years, we continue to make life interesting.

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This Christmas, I OD’d on Harry Potter

It was Sunday morning when I put on ABC Family to catch some of Harry Potter Weekend, denoted by the hash tag #HarryPotterForever, as the network aired all eight movies multiple times over the course of three days.

Prisoner of Azkaban started at 8 a.m, and the rest of the series followed until midnight.

The day before, I had seen bits and pieces of The Sorcerer’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets.

HPSince it was also the final week of the football season, I decided that I’d watch the marathon for a few minutes, and then spend my Sunday doing a mix of other things.

Ten hours later, I was so far deep into Potterland that it took me a little while to even remember that magic isn’t really a thing. I watched almost every minute of every movie. And it was amazing.

I pick up and read a Harry Potter book every now and then (I was hooked on the series growing up), and catch some of the films whenever they play on movie channels. But this gave it context.

The marathon allowed me to watch the events in succession, with no gap from movie to movie. It was a totally different experience.

It also helped me realize how awesome Twitter can be when actually used effectively. By following the hash tag, I was able to watch it along with thousands of people online at the same time, and experience their reactions to major events. And as any one who’s read the books knows — there are many of those.

It was a perfect way to not only end not only my four-day vacation from work, but the holiday season. Harry Potter may have little do with Christmas, but its story evokes the same wonder and magic that comes with this time of year.

Most of all, it was nostalgic. The Harry Potter series is one of the biggest things that binds Generation X together — or at least those born between the mid 1980s and early 90s.

While this current generation is defined by social media, ever increasing technology and ever decreasing attention spans, my generation will always have a book series that inspired adolescents to love reading again.

On Sunday, it call came surging back.

And then when I quoted the movies the entire next day at work, it made me even more popular.

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
I will try not sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends.

Joe Cocker died yesterday. The English rocker was 70, and while he boasted a slew of modest hits throughout his career, he will undoubtedly be remembered by is his cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

Many people, like me, were introduced to the song because of The Wonder Years, which featured it in its opening sequence. In fact, a lot of people probably learned Cocker’s version before they even knew it was a Beatles song first.

What makes a cover so good, though, is when you hear it and think, “Why was the song never made this way to begin with?”

Even Paul McCartney said that Cocker’s version was “mind blowing,” and that Cocker took the song to a place he never thought it was capable of going.

Until yesterday, upon reading articles about Cocker, I never knew that he became a sensation almost overnight directly because of that song, after he sang it at Woodstock in 1969. That was when he really introduced himself to the world.

So I couldn’t help but look up the performance myself, of a 25-year-old Cocker bearing his soul to millions of people in upstate New York 45 years ago, taking a familiar song and doing something completely different to it.

Here it is:

Watching it gave me goosebumps. God knows what drugs he was probably on at the time. But seeing the passion and emotion that’s entrenched in every lyric, the way Cocker just gets lost in the music, and how the crowd responded to it, is truly mesmerizing.

And it made me think. The world you could use some of that right now.

I don’t even know exactly what “that” is. But whatever it is, we can use it.

Our nation is in a very tenuous state right now. No one’s forgotten — nor will they soon forget — the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Protests are still happening. And these latest senseless murders of two NYPD officers have created a mood in New York City that hasn’t existed in quite some time. People are scared. And rightfully so.

So watching Cocker’s heartfelt, soul-wrenching performance reminded of something. The idea of Woodstock was to promote peace and love. And harmony.

It’s why we’re all here to begin with. To have shared experiences. And music does that.

I’m not trying to diminish the gravity of recent events by saying everything can be simply cured by a rock concert, but I think that there is something to be learned, and more important, remembered, from those eight minutes when Joe Cocker sang his heart out.

We can all get by, with just a little help from our friends.

Hangovers, then and now.

Sleep deprived.

Parched.

Splitting headache.

It’s the symptoms we are all too familiar with. The result of spending an entire night imbibing alcohol.

Nobody is immune to hangovers. But how we become affected by them definitely changes over time. In college, a hangover was a necessary evil. A minor consequence of having fun. You drank all night? No big deal; just sleep until 2 p.m., and when you wake up, the hangover’s already gone.

At that age, a hangover is almost a badge of honor. The worse you feel, it means the harder you partied the night before. Mission accomplished. Just smoke some weed and you’ll be ready for Round 2 in a few hours.

HsngoverUnfortunately, with age, that attitude changes significantly.

I am now 27 years old, a little more than five years removed from college, and I already am realizing the vast difference in how my body is coping with hangovers.

The hangovers haven’t changed. They’ve always sucked. But it’s a few other factors that make them feel much, much worse.

For one, the ability to sleep into the early afternoon is long gone. On a weekend, I’m lucky if I could sleep until 10 a.m., and even then, you’re waking right at the heart of the hangover.

But what’s change the most, I think, is how we view the value of a day as we age. When I was 21, it made no difference to me if I woke up on a Sunday morning like crap. The day wasn’t going to amount to much, anyway.

Now, however, I appreciate my weekends. I like having the option of going for a morning jog, or running errands I didn’t get to during the week. But you can’t do that if you’re lying sick in bed.

So that is what I try to tell myself. It’s not so much that my body can’t tolerate hangovers anymore, but rather, I prefer to start the day lucid and clearheaded. I like to wake up after an eight-hour sleep and have a cup of coffee, rather than having to down several water bottles to refuel my system.

And instead of going to a bar on Friday night and guzzling beers, I prefer staying at home, listening to the Beach Boys, play peek-a-boo with my cats and watch Netflix in my pajamas.

You know, I was still managing to maintain a level of coolness until that last part.

 

This guy who had surgery to resemble Kim Kardashian is scarier than Mike Myers, Jason and the ghost from Scream combined

Up until yesterday, I didn’t think I’d ever see somebody or something so frightening that it could leave a permanent imprint in my mind and forever haunt my dreams.

Maybe it was possible when I was a kid. When I was much more unaware, naive and easier to scare.

But after 27 years of living, things like horror movie villains, clowns and insects stop scaring you. It’s pretty amazing how much humans are scared of bugs. They’re so freaking tiny and are infinitely more scared of us than we are of —

HOLY SHIT IS THAT A SPIDER ON MY WALL? SOMEBODY KILL IT NOW. Oh, wait, it’s a black speck. Sorry.

Anyway, once you hit a certain age, you start fearing abstract things. Like anxiety. Not achieving your life goals. High Kardashian lookalikecholesterol.

Growing old sucks.

But again, this was until yesterday, when I saw the story about the 23-year-old guy who had cosmetic surgery to make himself look like Kim Kardashian. I warn you … the images are terrifying.

There’s really not much to actually say. I can’t imagine there’s a single person in the world who doesn’t think this is one of the stupidest things they’ve ever heard.

Kim Kardashian is one of the last people that anybody should ever want to resemble. Even if you’re a woman. But for a man to do it is just incomprehensible. He doesn’t even look human. Those lips are seriously going to visit me in my nightmares for the foreseeable future, and that is as a horrible of a thought as it sounds.

I’d rather dream about being trapped in the Hunger Games dome with the world’s most famous serial killers and horror movie villains than ever see that face again.

He also spent $150,000 to do this. It’s literally the worst thing I’ve ever heard in every facet.

I’d make fun of somebody who dressed up like Kim Kardashian for Halloween. Heck, I’d make fun of somebody who said they might consider dressing up like Kim Kardashian for Halloween. But this guy decided to do it permanently. Like, for the rest of his life.

And did I mention that he still managed to look nothing like Kim Kardashian? He looks like a mutant from an X-Men movie.

Oh well. I guess people like this need to exist so that when we fuck up our own lives, we can look at this guy, and say, at least we didn’t do that.

Let’s hope Sony’s scrapping of The Interview doesn’t set a dangerous precedent

I didn’t blog yesterday because I had a long day at work, I was tired, and there really wasn’t much going on in the news, anyway.

Today could not be more different.

I worked less than five hours, I’m blitzed on caffeine, and there’s so much going on in the news today that I could write an entire volume of blogs.

The biggest news in the grand scheme of the world is easily President Obama’s announcement of renewed relations between the United States and Cuba. But the most talked about item is the Sony hacks, and the entertainment conglomerate’s decision to pull The Interview on Christmas Day.

This only happened a few years ago, but it’s already sparked a lot of conversation from several angles. In case you’re behind in the news, Sony was hacked. Email conversations, screenplays, copies of unreleased films and The Interview2private information of employees was leaked.

The most dramatic thing to come out of it was an announcement by the group responsible for the hack, the Guardians of Peace, that they would mount a terrorist attack akin to September 11 if The Interview aired.

Since The Interview mocks  Kim Jong-Un, it was widely believed North Korea was involved. The FBI has since confirmed it.

Aaron Sorkin wrote a very interesting op-ed in the New York Times, blaming the media nearly as much as the hackers. He makes a valid point. Yes, it was the hackers who made all of the information available, but it was the media who jumped on it and made it public and easily accessible.

But the primary topic of discussion is whether Sony should have given in and pulled the movie. As much as I hate to say it, I personally think they had no choice.

Major theater chains already announced their intention to not show the movie. And I don’t blame them. Think of it from the perspective of theater owner. Christmas is one of the most profitable days of the year. Besides The Interview, there’s several other movies coming out that day, many of them family-oriented.

Why risk deterring families and moviegoers from coming to your theater because of a movie that wasn’t going to be your primary source of revenue, and isn’t even getting great reviews, anyway?

After that, cancelling the Dec. 25 release was inevitable. It forced Sony’s hand.

Whether the movie gets released at a later date, or in a completely different format altogether, remains to be seen.

The cancellation has not been well-received, to say the least, by Hollywood. Many are blasting it as a major blow for creative expression. Others say it sets a dangerous precedent for censorship, as well as any future and/or anonymous threats.

One might say, “why would Seth Rogen even make a movie like this? If you mock a totalitarian regime that has long been associated with terrorism, then what did you expect?”

My response is to look no further than Charlie Chaplin.

In 1940, he wrote, directed and starred in The Great Dictator, a satire of Adolf Hitler, released before World War II and during the height of the German ruler’s power. That took guts. It’s now praised as one of the most important movies ever made.

The world was a lot different in 1940 than it is now. There was no Internet.

Regardless, let’s not let this set a precedent for timid film making.

I predict that The Interview will be released, sooner than later, and because of the controversy, more people will see it than originally expected.

The terrorists got what they wanted. For now.

But for the sake of humanity, let’s hope creative expression prevails in the end.

 

Quick! There’s still time to get into the holiday spirit!

I can’t help but become captivated by holiday spirit this time of year.

Call me someone who’s easy to manipulate, but all I need is to see one snowflake, or one Macys holiday commercial, and I’m game. I like being happy. So when the season calls for it, you’re damn well right I’m going to answer.

It’s just 10 days until Christmas. If you’ve had a busy month, and haven’t really had time to get into the swing of it all, then it’s not too late. You can still be redeemed.

Because the best time of the holidays is the anticipation. The mood and positive feelings leading up to Christmas. If Christmas spirityou wait too long, it’ll pass you by.

So don’t waste another minute. Start right now.

And here’s how.

Watch old Christmas movies

Forget Elf and Bad Santa. The real holiday movies that captured the true spirit of Christmas were made long ago, with class, elegance, and no vulgarity.

Everyone knows It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Carol. Those are all excellent, obviously. But there’s other lesser known greats.

Try Christmas in Connecticut, starring Barbara Stanwyck, released in 1945, about a food writer who must pretend she lives the idyllic lifestyle she writes about in her columns when she hosts a war hero and her publisher at her Connecticut farm for Christmas.

Or The Bishop’s Wife, a 1947 film starring Cary Grant, who plays an angel who tries to help a bishop that’s lost a sense of his priorities come Christmastime.

If these movies don’t put you in the mood, nothing will.

Or just flip to ABC Family

If you prefer movies that aren’t in black and white, ABC Family is currently amid its “25 Days of Christmas” programming, and will keep airing holiday movies for the next couple of weeks.

Albeit, many of them are corny made-for-TV movies that aren’t very good. But come on, Christmas and corny go hand in hand!

Listen to KJOY

KJOY is probably the last radio station I’d recommend listening to any other time of the year, but come December, it’s chock full of holiday classics like Jingle Bells and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I dare you to switch the station when hearing one of those songs.

The other day I put it on and there was an a capella version of 12 Days of Christmas to the tune of “Africa” by Toto. It literally was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

Walk into Starbucks

All you have to do is set foot into the coffee shop and see the flavorful drinks they have right now — the gingerbread latte, eggnog latte and the caramel brulee — and you will be instantly won over.

Even if you walked in with the intention of ordering something else, you’ll somehow end up getting one of those three. Because they’re too tempting to pass up. And don’t even bother not ordering whipped cream. You’ll be miserable if you don’t.

Spread the cheer

Once you’ve finally accepted that this is the most magical time of the year, don’t keep it to yourself. Message a friend, hum carols to your coworkers, or even go and buy something for someone you like. Heck, maybe even donate to charity.

That’s the true spirit of the holidays: giving to those who need it most.

And if you’re Jewish then, disregard all of this, and … whatever.