My Seasonal Movies

Anyone who has read my blog has picked up on how much I enjoy watching television, but that can only be trumped by my love of movies, some of which I watch again and again. I have my favorites and I’ll mention some of them here but this in no way is a comprehensive list, instead below I’ll recount those movies that I watch at a special time of year every year without fail. Since we are still hanging on to Fall, ignoring Winter tapping it’s bony tree branch of a finger on our shoulder, let’s begin with my favorite movies to watch during this transitional season.


Nightmare before Christmas: If you can stomach the title; which for a girl born, raised, and schooled Catholic was initially tough to swallow this is an absolutely magical movie and oh yeah, it’s also a musical! I’m very picky about musicals and prefer ones in which every other sentence isn’t a song, which is another reason to love this movie, but I digress, back to Tim Burton’s magical wonderland. This movie is a feast for the eyes and you totally feel for ol’ Jack Skellington when he expresses his fatigue with the status quo. You feel carried away right along with him when he falls down the proverbial rabbit hole into Christmas Land and breaks into song, ‘What’s This?’ my favorite song in the movie. I wish I could conjure up the words to describe this film and give it the proper due it deserves. This movie follows a man/skeleton looking for purpose in life and a change for his beloved Halloween Land so tries to steal the antidote (Santa Clause), discovers thaaats not the right way to go about changing one’s life, and then finally lands on change he can work with. This is of course a quick run-through of a wonderfully nuanced movie, but boy oh boy is it gooooood!

Home for the Holidays: Now this is a holiday gem; I always watch it the night before Thanksgiving. I love this movie for so many reasons but the main two are Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. Nuff said! I also love this movie for the fact that it aptly reveals the delicate balance that is a family, separated by space, time, and circumstance who come together for this holiday. What’s especially poignant about this movie is how well the relationships are revealed without hitting you over the head with a shovel. Through Holly Hunter’s character you get to peak behind the curtain and recognize that she’s noticing her parents are aging and the parent/child roles are shifting ever so slightly. You get to see how her and Robert Downey Jr. as a brother and sister love each other and used to hang tough back when all kids were under one roof, but you know they have drifted apart not in spirit but in the path their lives have taken. You also see the tensed out older sister who is the no-nonsense, traditional, ‘family values’ sibling who resents the implied immaturity of her younger siblings. Then as a cherry to this cake, you get to meet the ‘crazy aunt’, everybody has one,  the one who never married who seems to live in her own world made up of cats (assumed), houseplants, and quite a few lamps. She’s also the one who probably had a really cool life but somewhere along the way turned into herself and just let life pass her by…some of her comments at the penultimate moment, Thanksgiving dinner, were priceless. This takes us through my Fall must watch movies, let’s move on to Winter.


Bridget Jones’ Diary: I don’t even know where to begin with this movie…I love it! It is the ultimate chick flick (I hate that term, but you feel me) and even better it has a British twist that somehow makes this movie better. I don’t know why, maybe because the movie does not come across as simplistic and formulaic although it is formulaic. Maybe it’s because there are some amazing actors in this movie, most notably Renee Zellweger. All I know is my sister and I love this movie. I totally relate to this character too, like Bridget I am always battling with controlling weight, limiting my intake of cigarettes, and for a spell slowing down on my nightly glass of wine. So why is this a winter movie? Well it’s because the movie starts and ends in winter right around the New Year. Much of the movie takes place during the cold weather months, so I maximize my viewing pleasure by also watching during the cold months and curling up in my easy chair, feet propped on the ottoman with a glass of red within arms reach, a cigarette between my fingertips, and only a cluster of candles in the fireplace for light. I cackle out loud while watching Bridget’s exploits and frequently cringe while watching her chase the unattainable guy aka not boyfriend material guy played by Hugh Grant, while ignoring the seemingly boring, good-on-paper, barrister played by Colin Firth. I have to say this is my favorite chick flick of all time; it’s not just a romantic movie it’s a thoughtful movie laced with plenty of great comedic moments.

Friday After Next: This third installment of Ice Cube’s Friday series is my second favorite after the original. I was one of those die-hard Chris Tucker fans who felt that there was no way he could be replaced and it turns out he wasn’t replaced, a new character in Mike Epps’ Day-Day was introduced and the rest is history. Now I jump-off the holiday season post-Thanksgiving with this Christmas movie, in fact I might watch it a couple of times during the season if only for the cartoon shown during the open credits which pretty much outlines the whole movie, if you never watch opening credits, this is the movie where you really need to. The opening scene unfolds on a skinny LA hood Santa complete with red converse, played by comedian Rickey Smiley, sneaking into Craig and Day-Day’s apartment and stealing their Christmas gifts and rent money. They pursue the thief and take a job as ‘top-flight’ security guards in a local strip mall where much of the movie action takes place. This film is jam-packed with a fantastic cast including Craig’s Dad played by John Witherspoon and pimp Money Mike played Kat Williams. If you have never seen this movie then you are missing out! If you’ve seen it on constant repeat on TBS during the Christmas season and you feel that you can’t watch it again, I advise watching it on dvd so you don’t have to deal with all those annoying commercials that break up the laughs.


Turns out there’s nothing that I’m regularly watching during the spring, my guess is that I must be out and about enjoying the change in weather and longer days.


Do The Right Thing: This movie is made for summer. Like the setting of the movie, I try to watch this movie on the hottest day of the summer, basically a day so scorching there’s no use for the outside. My most memorable watching of this movie was about five years ago. My cousin and I made some Darling-Cija-rita’s (our made word combo of our names), our home-made version of a Cadillac margarita. After making a pitcher, we settled down on my living room floor and commenced to watching Spike Lee’s film which uses the weather as a metaphor for the boiling point of race relations in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. You know how you inch up that first major hill on a roller coaster only to crest it and plunge into the abyss? Well that’s exactly what happened in this film which takes place on one day and built slowly, by the time the heat wave crested neighborhood race relations had sparked off a maelstrom so intense there was no turning back. While Spike uses the heat of the day to illustrate tension, he also uses a color-palette that serves to highlight the heat-wave and underscore each character’s personality. This is one of those movies that is definitely hitting you over the head with a message and you definitely want like all the characters, but there are some stellar, largely unrecognized (in modern-day Hollywood) actors like the late Ossie Davis- poetic as the neighborhood drunk  Da Mayor, Ruby Dee (Davis’ wife in real life) who played the dignified character Mother Sister who kept a birds-eye view of the neighborhood, Giancarlo Esposito who played the pivotal character Buggin Out who lights the proverbial match that sets off the culminating destructive tension that wraps the film. I love this film for the discussions it generates and for a chance to see all of the afore-mentioned actors and many more who do are sharp and brilliant in their portrayal of their characters.

No matter what happens the afore-mentioned movies will be in seasonal rotation for the rest of my life and of course new ones will be added. Right now I’m really fiending to watch the always magical (a term I frequently use to describe any Tim Burton movie) Edward Scissorhands which fits perfectly in my Fall/Halloween lineup. I’m also thinking of adding Black Swan because the always brilliant Natalie Portman portrays an insane ballerina, how perfect for the season! Swingers will probably be added somewhere, I’m just not sure where it fits in yet but rest assured it’s a classic that deserves an annual watch. So what to watch today? If I had my way I’d watch my friend Jack Skellington discover Christmas-land, but I don’t think my man will go for that, may have to save that one for tomorrow.










Yo! This is some funny isht! Btwn the cat’s name and the Cheetos, this post made my night, definitely gotta reblog this!

Lip-gloss on a Pig

Director of First Impressions as a job title, what do you think that is? I really wish my blog had a live interactive environment right now so I could get some good virtual banter going to first see what images this conjures and then do the ‘big reveal’. Since that’s not how this blog is set-up I just have to ask you to share your first thoughts about that job title. It turns out Director of First Impressions is code for receptionist, insert blank face. I was immediately insulted when I saw the job title and it actually looked like this: Director of First Impressions (receptionist). I mean dayum the punch line wasn’t even further down the page in the body of the job description. It was just like here’s the fantasy title Director: ‘that’s right my precious, think that you are in a high-powered position that will enhance your professional experience’ and then immediately following, receptionist: you get a swift uppercut to your pride as you realize you just got served by a damn job title not even by someone you can pinpoint, you might as well wear an ‘I’m with stupid’ t-shirt and make sure the arrow is pointing to self.

I’m a very straight-forward individual and I absolutely despise when people try to dress up bullshit, Judge Judy says it the best, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” All that job title does is let me know the pay will be excessively low and management won’t have an ounce of respect for me. Can you imagine being at a party and someone asking a partygoer the obnoxious, ‘So what do you do?’ question and they actually part their lips to say, ‘I’m the Director of First Impressions…’ This is one of those moments when I’d want to channel the old me, the mean girl with no filter, and be like ‘bitch is you crazy?’ Alas, I’ve been watered down as I’ve gotten older…not to say that running ignorant comments through your head before letting it spill off your lips is bad buuuut having more of a moral compass takes some satisfaction out of my conversations. Look, I know times are rough and jobs are hard to come by, which is why it’s even more important to keep it real with potential employees. I’d prefer the title receptionist, then I know exactly what I’m doing and can guess the pay will be low, the job will be monotonous, but I know what I’m getting myself into and I’m good with it. Remember that chick Sarah Palin always saying something like, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still pig”? Well that’s the one and only thing she said that I agree with, although I would prefer the pig use lip gloss, and that phrase perfectly illustrates why Director of First Impressions as a job title is some bogus bullshit.

Living for the Citay

The front of my building: the scene of the crime, as described below, was just behind those fabulous red doors…I need the law and order transition right now…

A child is born in hard time Baltimore City, she grew up, in small town Harford County, she hit high school and went away to colllege, then graduated and headed for the west, and once she left she ended up back in Baltimore cittaaaaayyyyy. Ok, so if you read that like what in the world is wrong with this chick, then go back and sing it like the Stevie Wonder song, “Living for the City”. Tonight I’m in stream of consciousness mode which for me is the best mode to be in, so bear with me, everything will tie together. So today after work I was parking when  suddenly I had a flashback to earlier this week when someone broke into my car (mercifully without smashing the glass) and tossed around all the stuff from the middle console on my front seat; surprisingly my first thought was I love living in the city. Then a quick succession of negative memories came tumbling forward to I guess, tap me on the shoulder and tell me why I shouldn’t like living in the city, but despite the tumult of memories: someone crapping in the vestibule of my building, the corner newspaper guy crapping behind a dumpster at the building across the street, numerous smashed windows aka car break-ins for others-I’ve had three in six years none resulting in smashed windows so I count myself amongst the lucky ones, homeless nomads aka squatters using the stoop as their living room or bedroom, Blanket Man (as he was named by the local college students) talking to himself in full stage voice down the block loud enough for me to hear with windows and doors closed-I wonder what happened to him, the city waiting for me to dig my car out of tons of snow then 20 minutes later (no lie) being so kind as to tow it- but not the other cars covered in snow- because it was in in an unmarked snow emergency route that only the city knows exists…I’m sure there are many more but I’ll just work with this little list of irritants and expand on the one that enraged me the most.

The king of all the afore-mentioned irritants was the crapping in the vestibule. It was a Friday early evening and I was taking out my garbage to place on the corner as directed by the city and so instead of going out my backdoor where I never would have found the pile of offending feces, I decided to take a shortcut upstairs through the front door. It’s as if I was meant to see this because I hardly ever use the front door. So I walk through the small vestibule, see it, and step over it to go outside. I even go back through the back door to avoid the pile but my conscience was eating away at me, ‘you live in this building, even if you don’t use the front door, what kind of person are you to ignore something like this’, blah blah blah. Short story, the guilt drove me to some kitchen gloves, bleach, and a roll of the landlord’s paper towels -she has a bathroom for her business so yeah I pilfered them, I thought it was my due since I was cleaning up hazardous waste in the public space of the building. I tied a scarf around my head somewhat like the one in my 10/18/11 post and grabbed a plastic bag like I was walking a dog.  I picked that mess up, and believe you me it was a lot and it was heavy (blech!!!). I bagged it and liberally poured bleach on the area, cursing in my head for fear of opening my mouth and tasting the fumes. All I could think is what kind of person would shit (I had to say it) in the vestibule of a building in broad daylight where anyone could see them? That must have been the most furtive shit ever…anyway, I was angry but did I pack up my apartment and hit the road? Hell no! I have a well-priced, well-placed (historic district) basement studio apartment with its own private (meaning street folk can’t walk up on me) entrance to a spacious patio that I call my secret garden, gorgeous architectural details like built in bookshelves and a stone fire place I imagine maids must have cooked over back in the early 1900s, and a landlord who believes in staying out of your business. What more could I want right? Welllll, yes and no, my place is lovely but living in the city, no matter how nice the neighborhood appears is full of quirks and also some desperate people who do what they have to in order to survive. I’m definitely not condoning relieving oneself in a vestibule but I’m guessing that this wasn’t someone headed to work, like oh wow, I gotta go, ohhh let me stop right here on this corner and take care of business. Nah, so living in the city means embracing the crazy from as far away as possible.


I grew up in Harford County Maryland in what I like to call, rural suburbia, and went to college in Bronxville, NY which was more like urban suburbia, then made my way to Los Angeles which was like high-gloss lacquered-finish suburbia, so after all that to end up in Baltimore- whose city motto used to be Charm City but seems more like a gritty crime thriller- is special. I wish city leadership would consider bringing that moniker back, because as grimy as it can be there are some magical moments (like my finding this apartment and eating a good lump crab cake with just enough filler to keep it together) that make Baltimore unique and fascinating. Share one of your special city or suburbia moments with me and come on folks in the suburbs, I know you have stories too, like watching people in a Wal-Mart or Target parking lot all dash for the parking spots closest to the door, cutting off fellow drivers and flipping you the bird in their attempt to walk the fewest steps as possible.

If it’s your birthday make some noise…

The above picture is the front of a birthday card from a friend; the inside reads: “You’ve got it—and today’s your day to flaunt it! Happy Birthday”…I love it!


Ok, so I know I’ve reeaallly been incognito over the past month or so due to an enormous workload on the day job that has simply sapped all of my energy; by the time I get home all I want to do is hit MyDVR on the remote control and whisk myself off into fantasy land. For those who work at the same not-to-be-named location as me, you know that September is our busiest time period. Now that October is firmly here I get to blame my birthday on the fact that I got nothing accomplished on my blog last week. Although a weak excuse, I took a couple of days off from the day job to regroup and move forward on my personal, non-work related to-do list and it felt fantastic! While handling my biz I also had an opportunity to celebrate my birthday and although low-key, it was quite satisfying.

So about my birthday, it’s been 7 years since I partied like a rock-star which is fine with me but frequently disappoints my friends…sorry ya’ll.  Over the years I’ve had some memorable birthdays. For my 9th, freshly moved back to Maryland from Utah, my parents decided to throw me a party and invite my cousins and family friends. Earlier that morning they asked me how it felt to be turning 9 and I famously replied, “I feel like a woman”, which horrifies me now but which I very much believed at the time; I still can’t live that one down. For my 21st- birthday I was attending college and spent the greater part of early evening riding all around NYC in a school van attempting to find this theater where we planned to see Sankofa and have an opportunity to participate in a discussion with the director and some of the actors. Unfortunately our driver drove us from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back before we found the place and I was pissed. Somehow we finally made it to the movie and hours later arrived back on campus where I was escorted to a campus-wide surprise party. The party was in full-swing prior to my arrival and upon entering the apartment-style dorm I hear a loud ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY CIJA’ and peep this chick Lela doing a keg-stand and taking it to the head. I wasn’t much of a beer drinker then so I remember drinking the beer for the simple purpose of getting tipsy which I achieved rather quickly. The birthday that still tops them all to this very day is my 25th which was a Moroccan-themed pajama jammy jam house party at my apartment. I wish there were words to describe the utter fantasy that was my party. I mean my apartment felt as fantastical as the set for the Sex and The City 2 movie: the walkway leading to my front door was lit with candles in brown paper bags filled with sand, my living room was festooned with deep red roses, tea lights across every shelf of my bookcase, a star fashioned out of hangers strung with blue string lights (modern art ya’ll), my fireplace was lit with a burning log casting an orangey glow, my dining area served as a dance floor-  the ceiling above strewn with various glitter encrusted stars hung on shiny gold rimmed thread, DJ Frane was on the wheels of steel, the side patio-festooned with white string lights extended the dance floor. To top it all off my partner in crime and the brain behind this operation, Johnny, tossed red rose petals on party goers as they arrived at my casa letting them know this was no ordinary soiree. Clearly this birthday impacted me quite a bit. My last ‘party like a rock-star’ birthday experience was 29. On this particular birthday I teamed up with my homegirl Tish because our birthdays are two days apart. We hosted a Libra party at Club One in Baltimore and we tore that dance floor up. To be a little more specific we took over one floor, ‘water’, to be specific, since the club floors were named after the five elements. We danced the entire night without stopping for anything but to refresh our drinks; I’m really not sure if I’ve hit the dance floor with the same vigor as I did that night.

 I have to admit my birthdays since have not been as epic and 30 came and went with little fanfare, by the time I turned 33 my father died, we buried him in September, and my birthday came shortly after so I was not inspired to party. Ever since this turn of events I have not had the inspiration or the finances to really do what I want which is to travel, consequently my birthdays have been quite low key much to my chagrin. Once again I had nothing planned for my actual birthday: I didn’t want to hit a bar and drink the night away because frankly it’s too expensive and my alcohol tolerance has down-shifted over the years, I thought about having a party but worried about the weather which is crucial for me since I have a small apartment and frequently use my patio as an extra lounge area, I thought about going bowling with the family but work schedules did not permit. Due to my indecisiveness, I ended up with absolutely no birthday plans …that is until one of my oldest gal pals, Rachel emailed me the following:

Old Friend!!

Do you have plans for your birthday evening?  Turns out, I’m driving myself home from DC that afternoon/evening– I’d love to come see you and hang out for the night if it’s possible.  

Her email meant so much to me because we haven’t seen each other in about 5 years give or take and the fact that she just happened to be close by on my birthday was a wonderful unexpected turn of events. When she arrived we jumped right in (just like I knew we would) catching up on  our lives attempting to cover all that we could in our short time together, knowing that key events might be missed, but not caring simply because we were happy to be in each other’s company.  She treated me to dinner at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, City Café, where we sat in a cozy corner and people-watched the fabulous Friday evening crowd in the dimmed lighting of this glass-wrapped restaurant. The food was fantastic and dessert was a berry-topped creamy light flavorful crème brulee. No I didn’t party like a rock-star but I 100% enjoyed my birthday; you can never go wrong with good company and good food; thank you Rachel. 

I also want to shout-out my family for hanging with me Saturday and Sunday; we had a good time taking in a museum and eating some of my Mom’s chili and homemade cornbread… again with the good company and good food… I’m really done now.

Home Sweet Home

I’m one of those people who love being home because I’m out all week at work and the sweet relief that comes from being home is due in part to being able to ‘let it all hang out’ both literally and figuratively. Don’t confuse this with someone who never leaves the house, because that is certainly not the case but I spend all week at work to pay for the place where I stay and all the bills associated with that, so I definitely get bang for my buck when it comes to fully utilizing my space. That being said, this weekend I stayed in the house preparing for the upcoming week by beautifying. This was my beauty to-do list: wash and curl my hair, file my nails (hate painting since polish chips almost instantly), and rehab my feet (had to say that, they haven’t been out and it shows). Yesterday I spent the entire day in the house, first thoroughly cleaning the bathroom-not just the sink and the toilet- and then vacuuming the main living area (I have a studio apt) which tends to have vagrant feathers all over the floor behind my futon from my mattress cover. Mercifully the dishes were already done which saved me from that task since I do not have a dishwasher. Once my place was clean I was ready to work on self and got down to it. I washed, twisted and set my hair, then broke out the Ped Egg and went to work; incidentally if you buy the Ped Egg I suggest getting the one with the handle, it has great grip and you don’t have to bend over as far to reach your feet if you’re not the most flexible person. After working magic on the heels, I attacked the toes: clipping, filing, buffing and painting them in my current favorite fall/winter color, Dark Angel by MAC. As I finished each task I had a distinct feeling of accomplishment. Of course this all took hours but on the flip side was well worth it since this is me and my friend’s (shout-out to Tish) birthday week and with all the different social events happening I wouldn’t have any other time to take care of these things. Wednesday is Tish’s birthday so we are hitting a happy hour spot to celebrate; Thursday I have a cocktail party; Friday is my birthday and ironically I have no plans as of yet-still not sure what I want to do but I want it to be something that feeds my mind like a play, art-opening, or documentary; Saturday my sister and brother and both of my nieces are coming down to Baltimore to spend the day with me and Sunday my mother is going to make some dinner and my favorite fresh apple spice cake. I have a lot to look forward to which is why I had to pull myself together this weekend because I have neither time nor disposable income to hit up a hair and nail salon during the week. Like I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say, when you’re a chick (or a dude) with champagne tastes and kool-aid money you had better have some skills yourself or you’ll remain perpetually broke trying to keep up the charade.

I’ll hop off my soapbox now and get back to last night. While performing my beauty regimen I also watched an insane amount of television, mostly a show my mother recommended, ‘Shameless’, a series on Showtime whose central character is a drunk father of 6 kids, ranging in age from 21 to 1 years old living on the south side of Chicago. The father is played by William H. Macy who I’m used to seeing in comedy roles, but who plays his role as drunk, outspoken patriarch aka sperm donor so well. Meanwhile his beleaguered children are so busy taking care of themselves that they don’t have time to angst over how much of a selfish jerk he really is; they remain in survival mode fiercely protecting each other and their father and some pretty funny shit happens in the process.  I got so caught up that I watched 6 episodes On Demand; I know I’ve said it before but On Demand is a wonderful thing that I probably should have never familiarized myself with…doesn’t that sound like Dave Chappelle’s Rick James skit where he says “cocaine’s a helluva drug”…I just cracked myself up!

 Enter Sunday, I slept off my tv hangover, had some breakfast, washed dishes and am now avoiding dry rot in the brain aka the tv is off.   Today, like yesterday, is a beautiful day and I’m trying to figure out how to best spend the next couple of hours until the boyfriend gets off work and we head to dinner. I’m really thinking I need to pick up the current book I’m reading, Waxed by Robert Rave, a novel I just started which is centered around three sisters, one who owns the spa du jour in NYC and the others who work for/with her and the clients they encounter. It’s too early in the book for me to tell how the story will progress but there’s a healthy amount of conflict building so it’s just what I need right now. So! It’s settled, I had to write all of this to determine how I want to spend the rest of this gorgeous, sunny, mild-tempered day and it will be in the backyard with my book.