The 24-Hour Dominance of “A Christmas Story”

Since 2004, the cable channel, TBS, has been playing a 24-hour marathon of the movie, “A Christmas Story,” starting on Christmas Eve night looped all the way through Christmas Day. In 1997, this holiday favorite used to feature its 24-hour dominance on TNT.

In 1997.

The movie is a bonafide holiday hit. A classic. And even though I probably haven’t watched it from beginning to end since I was nine (which by then I’d probably seen the movie 1,985,789,121 times), this 24-hour holiday feature loop plays in the background, on my TV, whenever my TV is on.

When you know a movie as well as most people know “A Christmas Story,” merely catching glimpses here and there will bring you right back into the story as if you’ve been lying on the couch, with the dog snuggled in your lap, watching since scene one.

For me, just hearing the scenes play out from a small screen in a room I may not even be in, stimulates the Christmas spirit in me. I’m taken back to the days I used to write Santa long letters of my most coveted toys and leave treats for him to eat on the night he’d come to drop off all my gifts.

I was a young child the first time I saw “A Christmas Story.” And that may be why anytime I see the movie on TV, or just hear the familiar words from across a room, it triggers a feeling inside that is calming and nostalgic.

The fact that the movie is set in the 1940’s may also contribute to my endorphin-like sensation that, for the moment, everything is gonna be all right, whenever that movie is on. The story takes place during a time that is often looked back as “the good old days.” Or, “a simpler time.”

Well, what could be a more simpler time than when we were kids?

So, right off the bat there are two things that automatically make “A Christmas Story” endearing to me. One, I saw the movie for the first time through non-jaded eyes when I was a child, and two, the story is set during the “olden days.”

Even though history tells me life was hard and not so great for a lot of people during those times, and even though, for many personal reasons, I wouldn’t want to live in those old days if given a choice, a sense of tranquility takes over me almost instantly when I watch an old movie. In some strange way the scenes on screen are very familiar to me, even though I’ve never lived it.

As a kid, I loved the part in “A Christmas Story” where the friends dare each other to do something because what kid didn’t do that?

I once put a cicada in my mouth, on a dare.   I once lay across the middle of a dirty, busy road in a white jacket on a dark night, on a dare. And I once made a funny face behind the back of a teacher, on a dare. (And yes, I got ratted out by my fellow-classmates.)

But I never stuck my tongue to a freezing pole in the dead of winter. I don’t know if it’s because I was never stupid enough to do something like that, or because nobody ever triple-dog dared me to do it.

 

 

 

 

Here’s to Another Clean Slate

Here’s to another New Year. Another clean slate.  A time to put the bad, the regrettable, and all we may want to forget to the side and start anew. Fresh. A rebirth, if you will.

Although I’m not sure all those sentiments are possible, I think people need to believe that at the stroke of midnight on a specific night changes everything. When we pop the champagne, put on glitzy hats, blow our paper horns, kiss strangers, and celebrate into the wee hours of the next morning, we are toasting to an end.

Maybe the year concluded on a high-note for you and you salute good luck’s continuation. Or, possibly, you’re crossing your fingers for a shift in the universe that will be more favorable to you and the path 2016 sets you on.

Either case, each scenario comes with hope. That’s what the New Year does. It gives us hope.

“Here’s to a year of better health!”

“Here’s to a year of much happiness and success!”

The month of January is the beginning of a new you, if you want it. A month filled with promises to ourselves. For the next few weeks, gyms across the country will be crowded with new faces, forcing not-so-subtle grumbles from regulars who now have to wait to use their favorite machine.

But no worries, regulars. Statistics show crowds will taper off after a couple weeks as the thrill of setting promising resolutions mixed with the excitement of a “new you” to go along with the “new year” meets reality.

And most of the time reality bites (one of my fave movies!).

The simple fact may be if you hated going to the gym in 2015, you will most likely hate going just as much in 2016.

And that’s okay.

I hate the gym, too. I’m a homebody who prefers to do as many activities as I can without leaving my house. This includes exercising. I have workout tapes, a yoga mat, a treadmill I resolve to fix some time this year, and a stationary bike I sometimes use.

I won’t make a resolution to go to a place I hate, but rather, I’ll change my intentions in the areas of my life that may need more dedication. I’ll ease myself gradually toward the changes in my life that need improving. But I’ll do it through meditation, not by guilt or external pressures.

It’s okay if on this third day of the new year resolutions may have already been broken.

Forgive yourself.

The truth is, we can give ourselves a clean slate any day we want. Every morning we wake we can sit silently with ourselves, and still our minds, and set goals, intentions, for each day.

We should celebrate each new day the way we do each new year.

 

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Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

The unusually warm weather for this time of year is making it very hard to believe that Christmas is only a few short days away. Two weeks ago I went to the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination. The gorgeous trees with its lights synchronized to classic Christmas music, and the entire production with all its festive decorations certainly helped to get me into the Christmas spirit.

But despite the Illumination and all the houses I drive by dressed in green and red costumes with front lawns pinned with giant plastic Snowmen and blown-up Santa Clauses, I still feel that the holiday has crept up on me.

All this even after I purposely made sure I went to see the movie, Krampus, just to be certain the Christmas spirit stayed with me. And maybe it did a little because for a couple days after seeing that movie, I walked around the house yelling, “I believe! I believe! Do you hear me, Krampus? I believe so you don’t have to come for me on Christmas morning.”

Still, I think I’ll lock my bedroom door when I go to bed on Christmas Eve, just in case. And Phil may not know it yet, but he’s definitely sleeping in my room that night, even though my dog prefers a certain family member over me. This little habit of my baby favoring someone else took time for me to accept, and I am often compelled to remind Phil that I was the one who took him from that over-crowded shelter, with its constant barking and utter chaos, and gave him his furever home. 

But I don’t say that to him because I don’t want Phil to remember his life before he had a home.  Because dogs live in the moment, I’m quite certain he doesn’t dwell on the past or wonder about what the future holds. He lives in the “here and now” and as long as that “here and now” consists of lots of comfy blankets, bowls of food with scraps of chicken or steak, fresh water, a tennis ball and a soup bone smeared with peanut butter, Phil doesn’t worry about the future, only the “here”. 

I love that about dogs. Their ability to move on, even from the most abusive pasts, and love and trust again, absolutely amazes me.

This Christmas I’ll be thinking of all the dogs in crowded shelters, waiting for someone to come rescue them, many with only days or hours left to their lives.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog for Christmas, and remember they could be a 15-plus years commitment, please consider visiting your local shelter. If you can’t afford to care for a dog right now, but would like to have one, please consider fostering. The shelter provides everything for the dog. There is no cost to you, except to love the dog. If you don’t have time for an animal in your life right now, please consider sponsoring a shelter dog or cat.

All of these will help to save a dog’s life.

If you’re looking for a puppy, please know that shelters have lots of puppies, too. You don’t need to go to a pet store or a breeder for a puppy. But the more time I spend around animals, the more I appreciate and love older dogs. Puppies are cute, but it’s hard to explain the feeling that overcomes me when an older dog looks me directly in the eyes and licks the top of my nose.

It’s as though they’re saying, “I’ve known and met a lot of humans in my life, but not all of them have deserved a kiss on the nose, but you do.”

Aww….nothin’ beats that.

Since Christmas has sneaked up on me, I will be running around tomorrow, and possibly early Christmas Eve, picking up last-minute gifts.

And to be sure that I am in the holiday spirit come Christmas morning, tonight I will watch a couple of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful Life and You’ve Got Mail.  Okay, maybe You’ve Got Mail isn’t technically a holiday movie, but it does have some Christmas scenes in it and it is sweet and revolves around books and online romance, a couple things I know very well (only one is kinda unfortunate).

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

 

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This Thanksgiving I’m Thankful for the Good Guys…We Need More of Them.

Hundreds of people have been protesting in the streets of Chicago since the release of a dash-cam video showing a young black teenager, Laquan McDonald, being fatally shot sixteen times by a single officer.

Although the incident had occurred over a year ago, in October 2014, the public is only seeing the video now, and it contradicts news reports given at the time the event took place. The public was told the teenager suffered a single shot to the chest, and that he had lunged toward the officer with a knife in his hand, forcing the officer, Jason Van Dyke, to act in self-defense.

The video told a different story than the initial reports (lies), and now first-degree murder charges have been filed against the officer.

It’s true that the young man had a knife in his hand, but none of the officers’ lives were in danger, as the boy was walking away from the police when he was fatally shot, sixteen times.

Other cops are visibly seen in the video, watching as this young man was overwhelmingly shot to death. Why didn’t those officers correct the erroneous reports first given to the public?

After watching the video, it’s clear that the story was fabricated to protect a dirty officer.  The officer wasn’t charged for thirteen months (400 days), was able to go on with his life while collecting a paycheck, as his murderous secret was kept hidden inside a tape.

Would anyone of authority within the Chicago Police Department have released this video had the CPD not been ordered by a judge to do so?

There’s a lot of protection going on by the Chicago Police Department, unfortunately, it isn’t always geared toward the people the Department made an oath to serve and protect.

In 2012, the CPD suffered a huge backlash by the public when the Department was found guilty of covering up the attack of a female bartender by an off-duty Chicago police officer. The city (taxpayers) were ordered to pay the bartender 850,000 dollars because other officers failed to do the right thing and turn in one of their own, even though “one of their own” had beat an innocent woman, treating her like a rag doll.

The video of the attack, like the video depicting the death of McDonald, is disgusting. But just as disgusting are the efforts made by unscrupulous officers to keep bad cops safe –the “code of silence.”

I remember watching the news when the officer, Anthony Abbate, exited the courthouse, and seeing all the cops cars and officers forming a line shielding this dirtbag from reporters and cameras. Mind you, these were on-duty cops, on taxpayers’ dime, standing guard for a corrupt cop who believed he was above the law.

Would these officers have defended this no-good cop so vigilantly if it were their wife, sister, daughter, or girlfriend the burly officer was caught on camera kicking and punching the shit out of?

Bad cops cost cities much more than money from lawsuits (the family of Laquan McDonald received a 5 million dollar settlement  from the taxpayers), they cost a city its integrity. And that’s nearly impossible to get back, especially when that city’s corrupt history keeps repeating.

I know there are good cops out there, honest cops, who risk their lives protecting the people and their neighborhoods.

So, this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to those officers, the good guys (and ladies).

We need more of them.

 

 

Below is a You Tube video of the attack by Abbate on the female bartender.

 

 

Happy Halloween!

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Whether you’re going to a Halloween party, haunted house, trick or treating, or just staying in and watching a Halloween marathon ( I did that yesterday, and Michael Myers terrifies me just as much now as he did the first time I saw 31 years ago), be safe, but have loads of kick-ass fun.

Whether you’re dressing up as something funny and goofy, or scary and morbid, or slutty and inappropriate, have loads of kick-ass fun. If you’re going out and not dressing up as anything, you’re kinda boring, but still, have loads of kick-ass fun, (if that’s even possible for bland people who go out on Halloween, and don’t dress up).

As I wish everyone a safe Halloween, please remember to keep the day safe for your pets, as well. Little kids ringing the doorbell all day, shouting for candy, can be extremely stressing for animals.

And if your pet doesn’t want to wear a costume, please don’t force it.

I once tried to dress Phil, my pit-bull mix, as Superman. That didn’t go very well. But I didn’t force it, even though I really wanted him to wear the costume because he looked frickin’ adorable in it. But when I saw how much the costume bothered him, I took it off him. Yes, while begrudgingly removing his costume, I may have mumbled something to him about how all the other well-behaved dogs in the neighborhood were wearing costumes like their mommies asked, and how I didn’t see why it was such a big deal for him to suck it up for one day, but still, I didn’t force him to wear one.

And I have never attempted to dress him in silly costumes ever again. Although, I do throw the threat out there, when he’s being a naughty dog, that I will do just that.

I’ll calmly say to him, “Remember that time when mommy tried to put that Superman costume on you, and you really, really, hated it?”

Suddenly, I have a well-behaved dog again because he remembers. He will always remember the horror of what was the Superman Halloween costume.

Yes. I have found a way to use Halloween to my advantage in getting my dog to obey me. Don’t judge me cuz it works!

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

A Recipe for a Patriotic Dessert!

Author Sara Daniel is sharing her recipe for a patriotic dessert just in time for the Holiday weekend!

Happy Fourth of July, all! Here is a special dessert I make every year. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.


American Flag Cake
pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Blueberries
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake
Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.

Enjoy.

~Sara

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

No Regrets

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The days remaining of 2014 have hit the single digits and when a new year approaches, reflection over the past year can bring forth profound emotions. There will be regrets. Some big. Some small. But hopefully with those regrets come moments one wishes to relive everyday for the rest of his or her life.

2014 had a few of those moments for me.

I published my first book this year and my second will be out early next year. Being a published author had always been my dream and the timing of that dream coming to fruition couldn’t have been more perfect. It came while I was at an extremely low point in my life and the news gave me the lift I desperately needed. I finally had a reason to be proud.

For the moment, I was assured I could offer this world, this life, something, anything. I felt the satisfying emotion of self-worth that every person needs to feel in order to live each day with the confidence that he or she belongs here.

It’d been a long time since I felt I had accomplished anything and the sensation that ran through me when I finally achieved this was life-saving. But once the jubilation of signing my first book contract eased, I realized, “Holy Crap! I need to do it all over again!”

Yes. I had to get to work on my second book because nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. I hit more walls while writing that second book because the inspiration just wasn’t there. Not like it was with the first book, but eventually, I finished it and sent it to my editor. She liked it and contracted it. (Thank you, Jeanne!)

I’m in a much better place going into this new year than I was at this time last year. I was still a month away from being published and filled with severe doubt about everything I did. In some psychic way, I knew how much was riding on the outcome of my submission to the small epublishing company I had discovered online. I wrote the query letter but was cowardly close to not sending it at all. My emotions were out of control. I was crying a lot and was certain that I was in no state of mind to handle a rejection.

Looking back, reflecting on this past year, I’m relieved I took a chance with my writing. Sure, I had risked getting rejected and crying more than I already was, but I would have gotten over it eventually because I knew I couldn’t live with asking myself “what-if?” all the time. It only brings regrets.

Heading into 2015 I have another “what-if” scenario haunting my mind and it won’t go away. But I’m not sure I have the courage to do what I know is right. This could blow up in my face in a very bad way.

A year ago I put my dream on the line. I took a risk. I need to do it again because I don’t want 2015 to be the year of regrets.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net