Category Archives: Relationships

31 Days of Horror: Get Out (R; 2017; 104 min.)

get out

I like when my horror movies also have a bit of humor and maybe even use that humor to make a point about the world we live in. Get Out does this expertly, with a look at racism through the lens of relationships and affluence, all while keeping its wry tone and dark themes afloat.

The story is of Rose, a young white woman, and her African-American boyfriend Chris. When they visit her family upstate for the first time, Chris begins to experience racist remarks and attitudes. Attributing these to Rose’s family’s nervousness about his interracial relationship with Rose, he carries on with the weekend plans. However, as strange events unfold and others arrive for a gathering, Chris soon discovers the horror he is feeling runs more than skin-deep.

  • Top Scare: Car Scene
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up

 

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Annual Favorite: A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision languorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugar plums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

Happy Anniversary or Goodbye First Dates from Hell!

Today is my 19th wedding annniversary; not quite a “big one,” but special nevertheless. I’m not quite sure what the traditional gift is for number 19…maybe incense or a bowl of pistachios? It doesn’t really matter anyway, because one of the greatest gifts I can imagine receiving (okay, besides my husband’s undying love) is a non-tangible one anyway: never having to suffer through a horrible, tear-inducing, oh-so sad, laughable first date again!

Like many of you, I’ve had my share of these gut-wrenching events and have tried hard to forget them. There is one, however, which stands out as The Worst First Date in the History of Mankind! I will relive it now as a public service. In an effort to help all of you avoid such disasters, you ask? No, actually so you can have a good laugh and maybe brighten up your otherwise dreary Monday.

Let me preface this cautionary tale by saying for the life of me, I can’t remember the guy’s name I had the date with, so I will simply call him Dufus. Catchy, huh? Okay, so here’s the backstory: I was in college at the time, perhaps my sophomore year, and I was very involved in a student organization which provided programming for the campus such as lectures, concerts, movies, etc. Dufus, a tall, lanky, all-face/little hair kind of film nerd was also involved in the organization. Our paths crossed every so often, and we were friendly, but not great friends. One evening we were talking and somehow, for the life of me I still can’t remember the details, he thought I had agreed to go out with him that Friday evening. Trying to be kind, I decided to go ahead with the “date,” thinking I could drop the “Just Friends” bomb on him that night.

Okay, so here’s the WORST DATE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, as it unfolded:

Friday arrives, and Dufus calls and asks if I can meet him at his studio apartment downtown. Turns out Dufus forgot to mention that he did not, in fact, have a car. I arrive on-time (I am nothing if not punctual. Now before those of you who know me say anything, it’s actually my husband of 19 years who causes me to arrive late at every event we attend. Love you, honey!), and when Dufus swings open his door, I am surprised to be greeted by his queen-sized bed. Well, it is Dufus actually, but his un-made bed is right behind him! Uh-oh! Better make that just-friends speech right up-front! But wait…there is no need, because Dufus grabs his jacket and ushers me out the door and says we must hurry before they close. Some fancy restaurant, you ask? Or perhaps an art exhibit on campus? No. The local Service Merchandise store where his wooden entertainment-center-in-a-box is being held for him!

I zip across town and arrive plenty early for us to wait 15 minutes before being helped, and another 20 before this 3×8 foot box is loaded into the hatchback of my tiny Ford Escort. It hangs several feet out the rear, and wedges between the two of us in the front part of the car, resting against the dashboard. Braving the cold night with the hatchback open, Dufus and I head back downtown, not realizing it’s “lap night” around the courthouse square; hundreds of high school kids are driving around and around and around, then down the narrow street Dufus resides on. I double park amid honks and hollers, blocking traffic, while Dufus goes in search of neighbors who can help haul the box up to his second-story apartment. Ten minutes and many hand gestures directed at me later, he returns, alone. So the next half hour of our delightful date is spent with me trying to hold up my end of the box while maneuvering it up the narrow, old staircase to Dufus’ apartment, praying no one tows or sideswipes my car, which is still double-parked.

Now, at this point, our wisp of a friendship had already been sorely tested. Any sane gal would have left at the mention of Service Merchandise! But, I was a nice girl, so I thought, “How much worst could it possibly get?” I know, you’re laughing now, but I truly thought Dufus might make up for starting our date with an “errand.” Okay, keep laughing, I can take it.

After hauling in the entertainment center and moving my car to a safer location (and putting my own money into the parking meter), Dufus announces that he has cooked our dinner himself…an old recipe of his grandmother’s, or some such nonsense. Translation: Cheap Date! He ushers me into a back sitting area of his apartment, where one wall holds a couch, one a TV set, and two hold what seem to be thousands of VHS home movies. Oh, no, I think, will I have to watch Dufus be potty trained? No, luckily, I only have to watch 1980’s-era B-grade movies for the next two hours!

Next, Dufus brings in two bowls of soup for us, so we can dine in front of the TV. Can I just stop here for a moment and remind all the men-folk out there to NEVER try to cook for your first date, unless you’re actually a chef or something? I’m hoping the reminders about not using your date to haul ready-to-make furniture and to not entertain her with VHS Hollywood rejects goes without mentioning! One sip of Grandma’s Soup and I’m desparately looking around for the Candid Camera crew. This can’t be real, I keep thinking. No one can plan a first date, or make soup, this badly!

Alas, Dufus has. So I pretend-sip at my soup for about twenty minutes, until he leaves to use the restroom. I jump up from the couch and open an old, oversized window nearby, praying he doesn’t hear the squeak of the frame. Looking down, I realize the window is over an alley! I can hear the bathroom door opening, so I quickly dump the contents of the bowl down the side of the building, close the window, then jump back over to the couch. He returns, glances in my bowl, and promptly offers me seconds! Ugh!

Begging off due to fullness, I sit back and try to figure out how to get out of there as quickly, and nicely, as possible. But Dufus suddenly pipes up and let me knows he made dessert too! Angel food cake! Okay, I think, how can you go wrong with cake? Ha…let’s just say you shouldn’t have to ask for a butcher knife to cut your slice of cake while you’re attempting to eat it!

In a panic, I actually look around, wondering where the Candid Camera crew is hiding. NO FIRST DATE COULD ACTUALLY BE THIS BAD, COULD IT, I WONDER?? It must be some big joke! I excuse myself to the bathroom, tucking away a few chunks of the cake for flushing so it appears I have eaten some. What do I do now, I wonder? How can I leave when it’s only 9pm?

Well, I do what any right-minded, first-date-hating gal would do…I leave the bathroom holding my lower abdomen and moaning about the sudden onset of cramps! No better way to scare off most men that I know of…simply mention “that time of the month” or anything even remotely connected to it, and men turn pale, turn away, and turn up the TV! (Not you, honey! Love you!) True to the male form, Dufus’ eyes grow large and round, and his hands start to fidget. I tell him not to worry, I can drive myself home just fine, no need to walk me out…though that does not stop him from trying to steal a kiss as I put on my jacket. Never fear! I use the turn-the-head-at-the-last-moment trick and his big, fishy lips land on my ear instead. Close one!

I actually didn’t hear from Dufus for about a week or so after that night…our busy college schedules (mercifully) prevented our paths from crossing very often and I’m sure my “cramps” (big smile) had him running for cover that whole week. And he never did ask me out again, thankfully, after I let a mutual friend pass along the dreaded Just Friends hint. Plus, soon after, he transferred to another school, or graduated, or something and became just a bad memory on my road to wifedom.

Now, did I ever tell you about my first date with my husband and how he was very late, our food was messed up in the restaurant for over two hours, and he took me to meet his sleeping roommate at the end? That’s a great story too…just kidding…LOVE YOU HONEY! Thank you for marrying me and saving me from all the Dufuses out there forever! Happy Anniversary!