Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keeping things for nostalgic purposes

This is a pair of shoes:


Kind of beat up, aren't they?

I've had this sad pair of boots since 2001, when I was 11-years-old.

Until today, I kept these boots for nostalgic reasons. Amazingly enough, they do still fit me. But they haven't been in decent condition for years and, honestly, I no longer find them very attractive.

But for some reason I still wanted to hold onto them. Analyzing it further, I think these boots were one of the few reminders I had left of the life I had as a child. We got them when I still lived in Missouri, my father was still alive, and I was for all intents and purposes still pretty clueless about the world.

All of that changed the following year when my parents split up, we moved to Ohio, and my dad was later diagnosed with lung cancer. 2002 was a really rough year, but 2001 was great. And these boots were a lovely reminder of 2001.

Today I decided to part with these shoes. I still have other, smaller reminders of my childhood. I have a whole box (the box itself is from childhood too -- a gift from my church friends when I moved away) full of stuff from elementary school, church camp, etc. I'll probably keep that box forever, but it's easier to shelve than a pair of bulky boots.

So goodbye to you, old friends. I've enjoyed our time together, but that time has come to an end:


What are some items that you've kept as reminders of the past? Do you think you'll ever part with them?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Blogging for the sake of blogging

There are some bloggers who can manage to come up with great content and be prolific with posting it. Other bloggers can come up with great content sometimes, but they still post regularly just so that they don't have tumbleweeds blowing through their blogs.

Then there's me. I don't come up with great content all the time, but I also hate blogging for the sake of blogging.

At first, I thought this post might be like that. But I don't think it is. And I might be a bit of a hypocrite because I'm blogging about blogging and I normally hate it when other people blog about blogging.

At a certain point, the repetition of the word "blog" becomes comical. It's a pretty funny word when you really think about it.

Anyway, I hate posting something that I know is sub par and not on point with the rest of my content just so that I can have something to post. When I've done that in the past, I've ended up looking at my past entries and finding really terrible pieces that never should have gone up in the first place.

Not only did those pieces probably bore half of my readers, it also wasted my time in even bothering to type it up. I don't want to do that anymore. And that's why it's October and the maximum number of posts I've had in a month for 2014 is 5. February was apparently a good month for me to be blogging.

But honestly, I just haven't been "inspired" by much this year. It's not been a particularly great year and it hasn't been a bad one, but it's been pretty busy. I've been working two jobs and also trying to maintain at least a semblance of a social life, so blogging has taken a backseat to those things.

Even when I've been sitting at work on a slow day or wrestling to get to sleep at night and a great idea has popped into my mind, I sometimes never even end up executing those ideas due to limited time. By the time I do get around to writing again, the idea isn't fresh anymore.

This isn't an apology and it isn't an excuse. This is also not me hating on people who blog every day. Some people blog every day and manage to keep me interested post after post. But I don't work like that.

This is just me stating something for the record: I'm not going to post for the sake of posting. So there might be gaps of time where I don't post anything. I would rather lose a few readers for lack of content than lose everyone for bad content.

I'm also not saying that every post I make is going to be plated in gold and worthy of any kind of accolade. Some people might even think, "She seriously thought that was a good post?" 

The answer to that question is going to be yes. Because I'm only going to post content that I'm actually proud of. And I feel good about this decision.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pet Peeves: People who comment on posts without reading them

I'll admit that I sometimes don't read an entire article from top to bottom. If it's something I'm only vaguely interested in or if I don't have a lot of time, I will skim an article. But I will at least read over the pertinent parts and develop a feel of what the writer was trying to get across before I type up and publish a comment.

Some people don't do that.

I recently had an opinion piece published on Elite Daily. This opinion piece was about Stephen Collins, the 7th Heaven actor who was recently outed as a child molester when his ex-wife released a tape where he admitted to the acts in a therapy session.

fanpop.com
It was a revelation that really struck me because I'd grown up watching this man on television. As a child, I watched him assume a role model position -- both as his character and in himself by extension. I watched this man act on a television show that featured dozens of child actors in the years it was on the air.

This is something that disgusted me. It would have disgusted me regardless of who he was. But since he was someone of whom I had once considered myself a fan, it prompted me to write about it.

So I wrote an article and submitted it to Elite Daily. They ran the article, but they changed my original name. My original name was "Thoughts on Stephen Collins from a Former 7th Heaven Fan."

It was a lame title, and they changed it. I don't disparage them this at all. I was a journalism minor and I know the importance of having a headline that grabs readers into actually clicking on the story and reading it. And that's what they did. They gave it a title that made it more interesting. 

That title was "Why I Hate Stephen Collins For Ruining My Memory Of '7th Heaven.'"

Now, I won't say that I "hate" Stephen Collins or even that it completely tarnished my memories of the first show I ever really binged on. But that title was definitely more headline worthy than my own.

In my article, I did mention how I was disappointed and that the disappointment did stem from the perspective of having been a pretty big fan as a child. However, that wasn't the main point of my article. The main point of my article was the increasingly sick realization that anyone could be a predator. Even someone who seems like a great, upstanding role model may be a wolf in sheep's clothing. That's a fact that keeps beating itself into my brain as I get older.

I mentioned how scary it was to think that he was a role model to children who loved the show -- and how he exploited his position of power. 

That was what I wanted readers to take away from my story. It was just my opinion and me working out some things in my mind about how he seemed like a really trustworthy person who has since proved himself to be anything but.

And still, it seems like the title is what drove people to discussion. They insinuated that I was not being sympathetic to the victims and that I was making the whole situation about myself. They said that I was selfish because all I was worrying about was my childhood memories of watching 7th Heaven. The only thing I can think is that the people who commented did not really read my post, but just assumed based on the title (that I didn't even come up with) that I was only concerned about my childhood memories being ruined.

That is not what I intended at all. I didn't intend to be controversial or self-pitying or anything of that nature. Am I disappointed? Yes, and I am allowed to be. But I recognize that the biggest issue in all of this is that the allegations be investigated properly and that Collins be tried accordingly. 

Here's a link to my article. If you think that it comes the way these commenters did, please let me know. And yes, I do know that people on the internet are going to hate. I just wish they'd gotten the meaning behind what I wrote before they made up their minds.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reversing my opinion of New Girl

I'm a woman. As a woman, I have a stereotype to fulfill. I reserve the right to change my mind on something that I was once pretty certain about.

Today, that thing that I'm flip-flopping (as the news pundits would say about me if I were a political leader) is my opinion of the show New Girl.

hulu.com

In this post in from August of last year, I made my case against the "quirky girl" movement. I placed Zooey Deschanel at the head of it. To sum that up, I believed that Zooey Deschanel realized how trendy it is to be quirky and has built her entire image upon it.

I still think this is mostly true. I have, however, changed my mind about the show New Girl. Initially I thought that the show just served as another medium for Deschanel to spread her glittery weirdness to a wider audience. If we're honest, she pretty much had every other corner of the market covered -- film, music (she's the "she" in She & Him), and even the internet (HelloGiggles.com, anyone?).

My initial try with "giving it a chance" lasted for all about five episodes. I concluded that New Girl just wasn't for me.

Since that original stand I took in 2011, I've noticed that the show only seems to grow. People love the Schmidt character and I've found quotes scattered about various nooks and crannies of the internet. Some of the quotes were funny, but it wasn't enough to get me to try watching the show again.

Then I had a couple of friends tell me that I needed to watch the show. When I told my coworker the struggle I had with Zooey Deschanel and her clearly intentional weirdness, my friend assured me that the show didn't continue to capitalize on that. She told me that the show was actually very cleverly written.

So I got bored after finally getting caught up on The Good Wife (caught up for the first time it started airing in 2009) a few weeks ago and decided to take the plunge.

And you know what? I actually do like the show. It's not my favorite comedy in the world. It's not even my favorite comedy still on the air (that award goes to Parks and Recreation, at least until its conclusion next spring). But it's fun and the characters are easy to relate to.

My favorite characters are probably Nick (played by Jake Johnson, who I think is adorable) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). 

And - I won't lie - Zooey Deschanel's character, Jess, has grown on me. But not quite as much as her outfits have. If I could have even half of her wardrobe from this show, I'd be a happy camper. Exhibit A:

pastemagazine.com

The show has also brought on some good guest stars such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Justin Long, Natasha Lyonne, Lizzy Caplan, and others.

I'm about halfway into season 2 now and feel pretty good about it. Even if that means publicly admitting I was wrong on the internet.

How do you feel about New Girl? What are your favorite television comedies?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Elementary: Things my parents didn't prepare me for

In early 2013, I did a segment called "Childhood Memories" where I mostly blogged about toys, books, and shows from my childhood.

Now, I'm taking that in a different direction. This will be the first in a series of posts about things I actually did during childhood -- most of them fairly ridiculous.

So without further ado... I present:


Things my parents didn't prepare me for

I was essentially an only child growing up. I have half siblings on both sides, but they were all much older than me and did not live in the same house while I was growing up. My mother didn't work when I was a kid, so I also didn't go to a day care. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life that my parents ever needed to hire a babysitter. I didn't attend pre-school.

What I'm trying to convey is that I didn't spend very much time around other kids during the first five years of my life. It wasn't until I started Kindergarten that I really had this type of exposure.

When I started Kindergarten, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how other kids operated -- the types of jokes they made and the fact that, sometimes, they weren't all that nice.

So here's a couple of pitfalls I had in Kindergarten:

1. I screamed my name out loud the first day of school

Hey look, it's me
It basically went how it sounds. I walked into the first day of Kindergarten and sat down at my assigned seat. The desks were pushed up against each other in clusters of four. When I arrived at my seat, one of my desk mates was already there. It was a boy whose name was Tommy.

Tommy told me his name and he asked mine.

At first, I was a little shy. "Cherie," I whispered. Tommy didn't quite hear me.

"What?" Tommy replied, asking me to repeat myself.

"Cherie," I said, a little louder. Tommy still couldn't hear me. 

"What's your name?" he badgered. At this point, I was annoyed. How did this kid not hear my name again? So this time I wanted to make sure he got it.

"CHERIE!" I bellowed, a blood curdling scream. 

Tommy's eyes widened. He heard me that time. Unfortunately for me, so did the teacher. My Kindergarten teacher walked into the classroom from the hall, where she had been greeting the students as they entered.

"Who was that? Who screamed?" she demanded. Tommy, being the little rat that he was, pointed directly at me. 

The teacher then asked for my name (making me say it for the fourth time in five minutes) and proceeded to write my name in the top corner of the chalkboard.

The "name on the board" tactic served as a way for teachers to both shame and keep up with who was being particularly childish that day. I was ashamed. I was the first child in my Kindergarten class to get in trouble. It wasn't going well for me.

2. I didn't know about April Fool's Day

I went to school on April 1st, 1996 without thinking there was anything separating that day from any other day.

Boy was I wrong.

Having not grown up with other kids, I'd never had any reason to know about April Fool's Day. My parents were older when they had me (my mother was 31 and my dad was grandpa status at 52), so April Fool's Day wasn't something they even acknowledged at that stage in life.

So there goes unassuming little me down the halls of elementary school that morning. If I recall correctly, I was making my way to the breakfast line when it first started to happen. 

The whole time I walked toward the cafeteria, kids kept pointing at me and telling me my shoes were untied. That's what I remember the most. There might have been a couple of other jokes, but the one I remember the most were multiple kids telling me my shoes were untied.

I was wearing Velcro shoes! I knew my ABCs by age three, but I was a little behind in the art of learning to make bunny ears with regular shoes.

Looking back, I'm not sure why it unnerved me so much. Those kids clearly weren't very clever.

3. Kids made me cry when they told me I wasn't going to have a birthday every year

My birthday is January 29th. For some reason, some kids were either misinformed completely or thought they'd be able to play a joke on me by telling me that I wasn't going to have a birthday every year.

I later learned that it was the kids born on February 29th that would miss their birthday due to leap year. However, I was quite disconcerted with these kids in Kindergarten essentially telling me I would be skipped every few years and remain my same age while everyone else got older.

To this day, I'm not sure if the kids who told me that just got January and February confused or if they knew, given my track record about not knowing things, that I'd believe them and it would upset me. I guess we'll never know.

Does anyone else have any similarly embarrassing stories from childhood?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I blame Taylor Swift for why I took my first break up so badly

Taylor mocking my pain
billboard.com

Taylor Swift has a new album coming out in October. I'm looking forward to it because - I'll admit it - I love Taylor Swift. She's probably my favorite pop star (I like Ariana Grande also and I have no shame). And yes, I said "pop star." Don't give me any crap about how she's supposedly country. She hasn't been country since the first album.

I digress from that. Anyway, I was listening to my favorite Taylor Swift album the other night whilst delivering pizzas. My favorite Taylor Swift album -- since you were wondering -- is 2010's Speak Now. I think the songs on this album are the most raw and emotional songs that she's put out to date. Although Red may have been better lyrically, Speak Now laid it all out there.

And, in 2010, it was a contributing factor in me going to a dark, quasi-embarrassing place.

My first boyfriend and I broke up on October 20, 2010. It had such an impact on me at the time that I remember the fucking date that it happened. Now, I'm gonna go ahead and throw this disclaimer out there -- nothing that I say in this post is intentionally bashing my ex. My ex is a good guy and I look back on the relationship with 90% happiness. The relationship was good, but the break up was not so good.

I was no angel, but I will say that my ex essentially broke up with me to date another girl. The girl he ended up getting together with was pregnant within two months of us breaking up and they got married within about 6 months of that. Needless to say, these facts didn't help me get over it. They're still together and they have two kids now and, according to his mother who I saw at the grocery store a couple of months back, they are apparently doing well. Good for them. I don't wish ill on them.

But I damn well wished ill on them when it happened. 

Adding fuel to my fire, I nursed my metaphorical wounds by listening to depressing music and watching sad movies. And that's when I found out that Taylor Swift had a new album out.

Speak Now came out five days after my first break up. Five days. Good timing, Tay. After Fearless, I assumed I'd be listening to upbeat songs about cheerleaders and Romeo and Juliet. Boy was I wrong.

I won't say that every track on Speak Now reminded me of my dead relationship, but 7 out of 14 of them did. Some were more relevant than others.

When I was still in the denial stage of the breakup, I was really into Better Than Revenge. This song is basically about a girl who steals Taylor's guy and she is scheming to get her revenge by winning him back.

This was basically my goal for the relationship until I found out about the whole pregnancy thing. Here's some lyrics that are pretty accurate in describing my mindset at the time:

Soon she's gonna find
Stealing other people's toys
On the playground won't
Make you many friends
She should keep in mind
She should keep in mind
There is nothing I do better than revenge

Yeah. I related to that.

Another one that I really related to was Dear John. Most people know this song was written about John Mayer. In my mind, however, it was about my ex. Because his fucking name is John. 

Anyway, Dear John basically recounts how John Mayer manipulated Taylor and ended up just leaving her in the gutter. I'd drink to that, Taylor.

The next song in my long list of self pity is Speak Now. This is a lighter track, but it's basically about Taylor crashing her ex's wedding. And it kind of trashes the bride a little and makes references to her haughty attitude. Once I learned that John and girl-he-left-me-for would be getting married, it made that one hit close to home.

Last Kiss is another brutal one. This one actually still gets me to a degree. I think the lyrics are top notch and really describe heartache in a way that makes you feel it from the gut. I can say that now and look at it from an artistic perspective.

In 2010, I looked at it from this perspective:


Anyway, so these are the lyrics that got me the most:

So I'll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep
And I feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe
And I keep up with our old friends just to ask them how you are
Hope it's nice where you are

John was away at college and he'd met a ton of new friends, so there were pictures posted on Facebook of him looking happy with all of his new friends... while I was sitting from behind my computer blasting Taylor Swift and behaving similarly to the gif above.

I'll admit it was ridiculous.

The other songs that made me considerably upset were Back to December (because we started dating in December), The Story Of Us, and Haunted

Really, I never felt closer to Taylor Swift than I did during those few months of probably certifiable insanity (I didn't actually get evaluated).

Now, some of you might say, "Cherie, you can't blame Taylor Swift for not being able to contain your own emotions." And to you I say... well then ok. Maybe I'm still in denial?

Anyway, hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I wish I'd gotten over it a little sooner. But I do have to thank Taylor Swift for helping me get through some much needed wallowing. I felt like I had a friend there helping me through it. And even if she never puts out another song I like, I'll be a fan for that reason alone.

1989 will be released on October 27. I'm pumped! 



Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Complete Ranking of Kevin Smith's Films

photo credit: viewaskew.com
In anticipation of Kevin Smith's new movie Tusk, I have staffed myself with the task of ranking each of his theatrical releases to date. Except for 2010's Cop Out. I have no interest in seeing Cop Out. If anyone reading this is a huge Cop Out fan, please convince me why I should watch this film that appears to be really mediocre.

Anyway, I've been a Kevin Smith fan since about 2004, the year I really started to get into movies. I discovered the beauty of the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and spent most of my free time in my parent's basement watching an assortment of weird movies.

I started seeing commercials for this low budget, indie movie called Clerks that was going to be coming on IFC sometime probably really late at night (that's when the best stuff came on). Clerks was ten years old by the time I discovered it, but that didn't stop me from jumping on the Kevin Smith bandwagon. 

I find that Kevin Smith is a very polarizing filmmaker. A lot of people complain that his movies are immature and better suited for teenagers. I've also read a lot of arguments that his directing style is a bit amateurish. Although I can't completely disagree with some of these points, I will say this: Smith is an excellent storyteller and a damn good writer. And while a lot of Smith's movies do feature selfish, immature characters who make bad decisions, there's usually a pretty good moral compass at the heart of the films. And also a lot of dick jokes. But I digress.

When I first read the premise and saw the trailer for Tusk, I was both excited and a little perplexed. Red State, a movie I actually just watched recently, was Smith's first foray into the horror/thriller genre. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't anything to write home about (in this unprofessional film critic's humble opinion). I have a feeling Tusk might be different though. The trailer looks absolutely sinister with overtones of dark humor. Plus, it has Justin Long and Johnny Depp so it can only be but so bad.

This is a post about Kevin Smith's previous films and my opinion on how they rank against each other. Beginning with the end...

9. Jersey Girl

I don't hate Jersey Girl, but it didn't make a very good impression on me. Jersey Girl came out right around the time that I was discovering Kevin Smith and, based on what people were saying about it at the time, I expected the film to be dreadful.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It wasn't dreadful -- it was just kind of bland and predictable. It's not a film I really have any intention on seeing more than once, so I haven't seen it since probably 2005. 

I'm groggy on the details, but I know that Ben Affleck plays a single dad to a smart little girl. His wife (played by Jennifer Lopez -- this was back during the time of Bennifer) dies in childbirth and he's forced to raise the kid alone.

Then Liv Tyler pops into the picture and things ensue. The things that happen weren't interesting enough for me to recall their details. Despite its efforts, Jersey Girl is ultimately a forgettable affair.

8. Red State

Red State is Kevin Smith's first attempt at tackling the horror genre. He does this with some success -- although the film really loses its focus about halfway through.

The general concept of the movie is fantastic. A family of religious nuts that make Westboro Baptist Church look tame kidnap three teenage boys by luring them with an online ad for free sex. They proceed to attempt to murder the boys in front of their family congregation.

During this time, the local police department realizes something fishy is going on. John Goodman, who works with the ATF, ends up bringing out a squad and taking the church/commune under siege.

Shit happens. There are lots of guns. Michael Parks, the minister of the church, is a creepy and sinister character. Parks plays this with perfection. Of the teenage boys, I was only impressed with Kyle Gallner's performance. Melissa Leo and Kerry Bishe also give convincing performances.

I lost interest in Red State a little more than halfway through. I think the ending was supposed to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it came from so far out of left field that I just didn't buy it.

Still a decent movie, but nothing more than that. 

7. Clerks II

Clerks II had its moments, but I won't lie and say I wasn't a little underwhelmed. Maybe it's because the main characters Dante and Randall still hadn't grown up in the ten years between the first installment and this sequel. Maybe it's because I found a lot of the jokes to be more crude than funny. Crude jokes are great when they're funny, but when they're not funny they just appear to be trying too hard. 

That's not to say that the film was a complete waste. Jay and Silent Bob are fun additions as always and the movie did make a lot of fun references to the original. There's a pretty funny joke involving a troll called Pillow Pants that's outrageously funny. 

Smith is reportedly going to make a third installment for Clerks. I'm looking forward to it because I do love these characters, but I'm hoping that after 20 years we can actually see them succeeding in life. I'm not expecting a movie devoid of immature humor -- that would be expecting Smith to not be Smith -- but I would like to see some kind of personal growth from these slackers.

6. Dogma

Dogma is an interesting little film. When I first read the premise, I was a little concerned that it would be some kind of blasphemous, anti-religion film. I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

This film centers around a woman, Bethany (played by Linda Fiorentino) who works in an abortion clinic. She's approached by an angel (Alan Rickman) who basically tells her that its her duty to save humanity and stop these two rogue, exiled-on-Earth angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) from going back to Heaven. Yeah.

What transpires is a journey that is very funny and in some places a bit thought provoking. The cast is terrific -- with appearances from Chris Rock, George Carlin, Alanis Morrisette (playing God), and Salma Hayek. Of course, our friends Jay and Silent Bob provide a lot of the more absurd humor.

Dogma is probably one of Smith's most creative ventures and it's a good staple for the 90s. I don't have much more to say than that.

5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

mgmchannel.com
I love Jay and Silent Bob. Like Kevin Smith as a filmmaker, I've noticed that opinions of these two characters seem to fall in one of two extremes. I am a fan.

Jason Mewes is not and will never be the best actor in the world -- or even the best actor in any given film where he plays a role. Jason Mewes does, however, have the charisma required to make a foul-mouthed character like Jay lovable. Silent Bob is always lovable. 

The premise of this epic film is this: Jay and Silent Bob find out that their comic book alter egos (Bluntman and Chronic) are being turned into a movie and they aren't getting a cut of the profits. The Bluntman and Chronic comics were developed in Smith's earlier film, Chasing Amy, by comic book artists Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee).

Jay and Silent Bob essentially go on a quest to stop the movie's production. As is typical protocol in a Smith movie, hilarity ensues along the way. A lot of Smith's regular players are present here... some of them playing more than one character or even playing themselves. None of them are unwelcome.

One of my favorite things about this movie is the self-referential humor. Smith pokes fun of himself, at some of the actors, at the fans. Pretty much no one is immune to being turned into the butt of a joke in this one. It's a lot of fun and it's a movie I can and have watched repeatedly.

Also, Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms!

4. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

When I first heard that Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen were teaming up for a movie, I was a little concerned. I like Seth Rogen and all the Judd Apatow movies, but I didn't want Kevin Smith to stop being Kevin Smith in an attempt to keep up with what happened to be popular at the time.

Thankfully, the movie proved me wrong. Zack and Miri is a funny, crude, and overall sweet film that centers around roommates/platonic friends Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) who get the idea to film a porn movie in order to get some money to pay their bills. 

The movie features a lot of laugh-out-loud moments -- many of which come from the various supporting players. Justin Long, Craig Robinson, Jeff Anderson, and Jason Mewes.

Also, if you like the movie and you're bored, watch this video of Seth Rogen and Justin Long improvising lines. It's one of the best things I've seen in a long time.


3. Mallrats

Mallrats has become something of a cult classic. Initially panned by the majority of critics, this movie gained an extensive following in the years after its release.

There isn't much to say about Mallrats other than that it's funny, unmistakably '90s, and really funny.

Also, whatever happened to Jeremy London?

2. Chasing Amy

I love this movie. The first time I watched it, I was a little disappointed. But I think my issue was that I was expecting another movie in the vein of Clerks and Mallrats. Although Chasing Amy is at its core still a comedy, it actually features a lot of mature themes that Smith had not really touched on in his previous ventures.

The film centers around Holden and Banky (Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, respectively), two best friends who write and draw comics. 

At a comic book convention, Holden meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). Alyssa is a free spirit. She holds her own with the guys and she curses and smokes like a sailor on leave. Holden falls for her and begins scheming to find a way to hook up with her... only to discover that she's a lesbian.

The two decide to become good friends and Holden begins focusing much of his time on Alyssa, leaving Banky in the dust. Banky has a negative opinion of Alyssa from the outset and this causes the friendship between himself and Holden to become strained.

I don't want to give too much away for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, but I will just say that Smith effectively broaches the topic of sexual orientation without cheapening the outcome of the film. This is one of Smith's more emotional ventures, although moments are very funny and the dialogue is very sharp.

There's also a really good scene where Holden discusses his dilemma with Jay and Silent Bob... it's one of Smith's most introspective scenes to date. Highly recommended.

1. Clerks

Clerks is and will probably always be one of my favorite movies. The thing about Clerks is that it doesn't look too impressive and the acting isn't really that good. But Kevin Smith puts forth such an enthusiastic spirit that the movie excels despite those aspects.

At first glance, Clerks is just a film about a day in the life of a bored Quick Stop employee. But beneath the surface, the movie really examines the plight of the young adult who really has no idea how to get a handle on life. Dante Hicks, our protagonist, is stuck at his dead-end job on a day where he wasn't even scheduled to work. His girlfriend is pissed at him and he has regrets that he never stuck it out with his high school sweetheart (who is now engaged to an Asian design major of all things). 

Dante and Randall, the clerk at the neighboring video store, have a pretty eventful day with a ton of hysterical (and sometimes cringeworthy) moments. They leave the store to play hockey on the roof, they accidentally sell cigarettes to a small child, and they attend the wake of a girl they knew in high school. At the end of the day, they end up duking it out over Dante's personal problems and chatting a lot about Star Wars.

The movie is in black and white because they couldn't afford to do it in color. The film cost only about $27,000 to make and the rights to the music used in the film cost more than the actual production. Kevin Smith shot the scenes in the real Quick Stop where he worked outside of the hours of operation. He maxed out several credit cards to help finance his dream. This was definitely a DIY movie. If not for Smith's hard work on this little-movie-that-could, we probably wouldn't be blessed with the whole View Askewniverse as it is today.

Clerks is far from a perfect film, but the script is solid, clever, and remains very funny even 20 years later. The characters are selfish and immature, but they are somehow easy to relate to. I'm thankful that enough people saw the merit in Clerks to allow Kevin Smith the ability to continue on with such a career as he has today.

So... to anyone who actually got through this post: what do you think about my list and about these films? And does anyone actually recommend that I watch Cop Out?

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