Penguinate at Salem Holiday Market 2019 Sunday

Jenya and penguins at the Salem Holiday Market 2018

Find the best handmade gifts for the holiday season from the best small businesses and entrepreneurs in Oregon!

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“Daddy’s Home 2”: Laughs and Heart

“Daddy’s Home 2” is a sequel that’s better than the original and proves that, in this case, more is better. The premise of old-school, toxic masculinity meeting new-world, kinder, gentler men uses a time-tested winning formula composed of slapstick, the absurd, and a heart-felt change in the characters that makes sense. While the writing sets the film up for success, it’s the casting and the acting that keep the film together.

Brad (Will Ferrell) and Don (John Lithgow) play to type as the uptight, over-emotional dad and granddad. Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) is the tough guy trying to change and adapt to a new reality while his father, Kurt, played by Mel Gibson, is stuck in the 1980s, womanizing and espousing the old values of masculinity that still work for him, but are, at the very least, questionable in the era of #metoo. The confrontation between the two styles of living comes into conflict as Dusty tries to conform to a life his father seemingly disapproves of.

“Daddy’s Home 2” plays to the strengths of its stars. The changes in character are believable, and even in the most absurd cases, the movie is never so far out there as to invoke disbelief, which is odd as a comedy. These qualities make “Daddy’s Home 2” a high-quality movie that isn’t just about getting belly laughs, which it does throughout the film, but it also explores the relationships between family members, especially fathers and their sons. For some, this film may seem like a guilty pleasure, but look closer and you have a film that really finds its meaning in the season. For more about the movies check out my other blog posts.

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The Apartment (1960): A Christmas/New Year’s Comedy Classic?

The Apartment” (1960) starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray was nominated for 10 Oscars and won five of them, including an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Billy Wilder. It is rated by Rotten Tomatoes as the eighth best Christmas film of all time and by Esquire as the third best New Year’s film. In some ways, it seems like the 1960s version of “Love Actually” (or maybe, it should be the other way around). Whether these rankings indicate a true dearth of good holiday films or something else about the film industry and its rankings, “The Apartment” is no longer a feel-good movie or one with many laughs.

C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a young executive looking to advance in his company. As such, he loans out his apartment to the executives above him, so that they can cheat on their wives. This leads to late nights on a park bench for Charlie as well as a poor reputation among his fellow apartment dwellers and landlady. Lemmon schedules each of four executives, gives them deadlines to be out of the apartment (which they fail to meet), purchases alcohol and snacks for them to have while they are entertaining the women.

The boss, Jeff Sheldrake (MacMurray), learns about the apartment and its shenanigans and manipulates Baxter into allowing him to use it for his dates with Elevator Operator Fran Kubelik (MacLaine), with whom Baxter is in love. Baxter doesn’t know the identity of the woman Sheldrake is dating, and with the promise of promotion and the threat of losing his job, he agrees to the arrangement.

Kubelik makes it clear, on multiple occasions, that she likes Baxter but has absolutely no romantic interest in him. Still, she’s nice enough to him in a friendly way that he keeps his hopes alive for a meaningful relationship with her.

Everyone of the main characters has low morals of some sort. Disney staple MacMurray’s Sheldrake is a liar and manipulator, who serially cheats on his wife. MacLaine’s Kubelik knows Sheldrake is married and still goes out with him while lamenting about the type of men she’s attracted to. While she may seem to be the victim, she is complicit in her decision to continue going out with Sheldrake even after she has ostensibly broken off the relationship. The company itself shows its morals at the Christmas party where co-workers make out in every corner and one of the women does a striptease on a desk. All of this can be taken in context of current and past morals. (When Sheldrake confronts Baxter, Baxter says four bad apples are very little in relation to over 32,000 employees; Sheldrake responds with the fact that even four bad apples can ruin a large barrel.)

Lemmon’s Baxter may be the least objectionable morally; he certainly isn’t as bad as he could be. He never resorts to blackmail to get his promotions. Still, he’s an enabler and a liar, and his need to climb the corporate ladder trumps his better judgement.  His character is the only one with a believable arc. At least, the doctor, his wife and presumedly, the landlady are good people.

Lemmon, MacLaine (until her sudden change of mind/heart), and MacMurray are convincing in their roles. They are sympathetic actors even if their characters don’t offer much in the way of sympathy, and as long as cheating on your wife, attempted suicide, and discussion of another attempted suicide make for funny situations in holiday films for you, “The Apartment” is a decent movie. It’s interesting as a cultural study, especially in view of many people who would like to back to the era when men in power could cheat on their wives with impunity. Though this movie includes a woman who would cheat on her husband, who is in jail in Havana, so maybe this is where the sexual revolution began.

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Scenes from Christmas Time at the Disneyland Resort 2018

Partners statue in Disneyland

For my 50th trip to Disneyland, we celebrated Christmas, my mom’s birthday and my grandma’s 90th birthday. It was a great trip. Disneyland has the ability to bring out the child in all of us. Find out how being childlike can help you be more creative. Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Find links to other Disneyland related articles here. Have a Merry Christmas!

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The Disneyland ‘A Christmas Fantasy Parade’

Opening float for A Christmas Fantasy Parade

As Charles Dickens wrote in ‘A Christmas Carol’:
“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.” Creativity requires people to be child-like. Children are insatiably curious. They combine things that no one else would think of; they explore the intersections where concrete meets grass and water meets land.

Enjoy these photos from Disneyland’s ‘A Christmas Fantasy Parade’ and find your inner child. Read more about being childlike and creativity.

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Two more days for Salem Holiday Market!

Jenya and penguins at the Salem Holiday Market 2018

Come find us at the Salem Holiday Market! Our penguins are waiting for you! Don’t forget your coupon!

It’s at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem starting at 10 am. We’re in the Columbia Building. Go through the Jackman Long Building and into the Columbia building. Turn left, and we’re right there… or left there… Anyways, WE’RE THERE! (Video tomorrow.)

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Speakers’ Club, Nov. 10, 2018

Speakers’ Club Rules?
Win, Lose or Draw: https://youtu.be/DkanMBGiaxc?t=145
Three of these things: https://youtu.be/GC3AIV7CmVk

Baby, It’s Cold Outside:
Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser to perform with his wife at parties.
Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams: https://youtu.be/DO8vD0ClzbE

I really can’t stay – Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away – Baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been – Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice – I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice

My mother will start to worry – Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor – Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I’d better scurry – Beautiful, please don’t hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more – Put some records on while I pour

The neighbors might think – Baby, it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink? – No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how – Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell – I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell

I ought to say no, no, no – Mind if I move in closer?
At least I’m gonna say that I tried – What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can’t stay – Baby don’t hold out
Ah, but it’s cold outside

I’ve got to get home – Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat – It’s up to your knees out there
You’ve really been grand – Thrill when you touch my hand
Why don’t you see – How can you do this thing to me?

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow – Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied – If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can’t stay – Get over that hold out
Ah, but it’s cold outside
Oh, baby, it’s cold outside
Oh, baby, it’s cold outside

Blurred Lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU

The wolf and the mouse

She and Him: https://youtu.be/ZVz6TCT5Bjs
Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the Muppets: https://youtu.be/ZtoW4aV-CIc
Baby, It’s Cold Outside with Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrat and Red Skelton original: https://youtu.be/7MFJ7ie_yGU
With consent: https://youtu.be/amK4U4pCTB8
Consensual: https://youtu.be/jppIA4eRLuY
With kids: https://youtu.be/6bbuBubZ1yE
Baby, It’s Cold Outside with Lyrics: https://youtu.be/hnH_RGyzbSU

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The Moral Implications of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

One of my favorite renditions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”is from Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams. I showed it to my wife, and she said,after seeing a couple of other versions, “That’s a miracle.” I’ve led a singalong with the song at the Speakers’ Club in Blagoveshchensk to help improve English skills in a fun way, and after listening to, and singing, the song a half dozen times this season, I thought we should delve deeper into its meaning. Words like “scurry” and phrase like “pacing the floor” aren’t everyday English that people here may have encountered.

Frank Loesser wrote the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in 1944 and performed it with his wife at parties. (That was something famous people did back before television and high fidelity.) The song let the guests know it was time to go home. It was so well received that Loesser and his wife were invited to several high society shindigs, so that they would perform the song. Loesser sold the song to MGM who used it in the film “Neptune’s Daughter.”

The song has a call and reply setup. The first line is labeled as “the mouse” (I really can’t stay) and the second line is the wolf (Baby, it’s cold outside). Most people will say that the male part is the wolf and the female part is the mouse, and because men still predominantly hold the power in society, this isn’t questioned, even though the first mass media showing of the song had both a man (Ricardo Montalban) and a woman (Betty Garrat) in the wolf position (while Esther Williams and Red Skelton sang the mouse parts).

Art is what you bring to it. In the 1940s and ’50s, this song may have been seen as a call to empowerment. The mouse, male or female, is trying to throw off the shackles of society and judgement. If the mouse is vocalizing an internal struggle and the wolf isn’t interrupting but vocalizing his or her feelings about the whole situation, the song could’ve been read this way, especially if the audience was unfamiliar with the labeling.

In the age of #metoo and hyperawareness of consent, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” becomes questionable. Whether the wolf part is sung by a male or female, it’s about one person trying to convince another to stay inside and cuddle, or more, depending on what’s in the drink. Even if it’s just alcohol, consent could become a further problem. Worse, these types of arguments are the same ones that people who commit sexual assault use to get the other person in an uncomfortable situation.

In a fantasy setting or movie, the song is enjoyable, flirtatious and fun. In real life, when “no” means “no”, there’s no place for this type of coercion. If s/he must go, call her/him a cab and facilitate a safe departing. If you have to invoke this song in your decision to do so, remember, it was originally written to signal to guests it was time to leave the party. Share this article if you liked it!