There’s always the big debate – does a movie taking place at Christmas make it a Christmas movie? I fall on the “not” side of this argument when the 1988 movie Die Hard comes into question.
It’s not just the jolly holiday to which this quandary applies. Since October starts at the end of this week, I recently came across a list of the Top 10 Halloween movies and began to wonder, just because it came out at Halloween is it a Halloween movie? The answer is: YES!!! The reason is: they’re (mostly) scary!!!
Personally, I love a good suspense film. Hitchcock was the master, but there are many good modern ones. I really hate slasher films. Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t think you need to see someone’s spurting blood or grey-matter splattered to have a Halloween film. Most people don’t realize it, and will deny it when asked about it, but you never see the knife enter Marion Crane’s (Janet Leigh) body in 1960’s Psycho. You see the knife, you see Crane screaming, you see the torn curtain, and you see the blood (chocolate syrup) run down the drain, but you never see an actual stabbing.
One of the movies on the list that brings up the original debate is: The Nightmare Before Christmas (also known as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas). The stop-motion animated musical dark comedy was released on October 13, 1993 making it a Halloween movie. But, it centers around characters wanting the feeling of Christmas. So, which is it?
I’ll let you continue the debate for yourself. As for me, the #4 on the list is my #1 – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! There’s no debate that it’s the most sincere.
Tonight is the 21st day of September, which, of course, brings to mind the Earth, Wind & Fire hit song September. Today is also the last day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which, according to the legend, is the only reason Earth, Wind & Fire members and song writer Allee Willis chose that date to write the song about. Released in 1978, the song reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the UK Singles Chart.
The lyrics are clean and clear and easy to understand, but whenever you talk about famous songs, you have to include those that got famous more for the lyrics people didn’t understand than the song itself. Would the Elton John song Tiny Dancer have been as big of a hit for him if most people didn’t think the lyrics went: hold me closer “Tony Danza”? Well, that’s a bad example, it’s Elton John after all, of course the song would have become famous.
Misheard lyrics are as old as songs themselves. On a list of the Top 30 Misheard Song Lyrics Everyone Gets Wrong, you’ve got modern songs and songs that are now playing in elevators and grocery stores.
In our house, the misheard lyrics goes beyond full songs it applies to commercials, too. How many remember the Heinz Ketchup commercial that used Carly Simon’s hit Anticipation? Well, a young Russell would have put money down that the lyrics were: “Heinz is the patience.” It still cracks his sister up 43 years later.
Um, Shoes that are too tight? Um, A room that is too cold? The smell of coffee burning? What are ‘things that make you uncomfortable’?
Beyond the physical, there are mental and emotional things that make you uncomfortable as well. For many, one of them is the notion of Freedom. I was reading a story about a student protest on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this past weekend. It made me uncomfortable. I was inwardly conflicted. I thought the act was reprehensible, but I support the student’s right to have the freedom do it.
There’s the old phrase: “Your right to punch me in the nose ends at the beginning of my nose.” This is fine, it’s easy to define physical freedoms. Your right to drive intoxicated ends at the beginning of the hood of my car you might hit. But emotional and intellectual freedoms are harder to define.
You have the right to worship as you please, it’s the main founding principle of our country. But, your freedom to worship as you please ends at the beginning of you telling me how I can worship.
Some may take this and apply it to public health. They may say that the government’s right to vaccinate its people ends at the beginning of their arm. And that’s fine, if we’re talking about health issues that stay within the unvaccinated person’s arm. If you have a headache, you don’t have to take aspirin, that’s your right. If you have an ulcer, you can keep drinking that’s your right. But when you’ve got a health issue that spreads so easily, can kill or cripple, and has costs billions of dollars in world-wide economic impact; then your freedom not to get vaccinated ends at the beginning of mine and my family and community’s freedom not to get sick.
We’ve just celebrated Labor Day! Ironically, the day created to celebrate the American worker and their achievements has most workers working as white-collar workers have the day off. The day became a federal holiday in 1894, and Uncle Sam is often seen leading the celebration parades in many cities.
I’m not sure if this is because Uncle Sam has become a symbol incarnate of our country, or if it was that on September 7, 1961, the Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam” and the date is usually on or near Labor Day?
The next question you may ask is who is Samuel Wilson? Simply, he was a meat packer from New York who supplied beef to the army during the war of 1812. He would brand his barrels with a “U.S.” for United States, but given that his given name was Sam for short, the soldiers began to refer to the barrels as, “Uncle Sam’s.” Now, this is where the publicity angle comes in: a local newspaper picked up the story, it got spread around the country, and the nick-name of Uncle Sam stuck.
Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist at the time, is part of the reason the name stuck. Nast started using the name Uncle Sam in his cartoons to symbolize the country as a person. Although Nast originally used a likeness of Wilson, eventually Nast added the beard, top hat, and stars-and-stripes suit that we know and love today.
But what does Santa Claus have to do with Uncle Sam? Nast also drew the first image of the jolly old elf as we know him today. In 1862, Nast gave us Santa Claus in the publication Harper’s Weekly and had him supporting the Union. Thus, I guess, forever aligning him as a Yankee!
A couple of months ago I did a blog post on coffee and liver disease. Not that coffee is a cure-all, but drinking a couple of cups, black, (cream and sugar and other sugary additives negate all health benefits) can reduce your chances of dying from symptoms such as cirrhosis.
Today there’s more good news! A study has shown drinking coffee (again, black) in moderation will decrease the chances of stroke, death from cardiovascular disease, and a decrease in all-cause mortality. This is great news considering 80% of deaths due to cardiovascular reasons can be prevented by changes in what they call lifestyle factors.
For this study, ½ a cup to 3 cups daily is considered moderation. The average size of a cup in this case is measured at 8 oz., so don’t go drinking three of your bathtub-sized caramel chocolate drizzled four-pump vanilla no foam non-fat (well, that maybe the only part that is good) half-shot latte macchiato frappuccino; and think you’re being healthy.
This study is based on association, not cause and affect. Diet and exercise still count, and of course medication can be lifesaving, but still there are definite additional health benefits. The studies were done on people without significantly elevated cholesterol and were generally healthy, so coffee should be considered as one more way you can help your body help itself.
Don’t look to coffee to cure what ails you, rather to keep you from getting certain ails in the first place. Watch out apple, you’re no longer the only thing that keeps the doctor away!