Review: Bobcats’ favorite holiday movies

While some of us may have begun celebrating Christmas a month ago, for those of you who are adamant about not listening to a single verse of “Jingle Bells” until Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday season is now officially upon us. And what would the Christmas season be like without all those classic holiday movies, both new and old? I asked a couple Bobcats to name their favorite seasonal flicks, so if you choose to celebrate Christmas, make sure to schedule time in your winter break to watch these films – odds are they’ll all be on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas at some point!

1) Elf (2003) 
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Elf is my favorite Christmas movie because there is so much physical comedy and every time I watch it, I notice something new.” – Lucas Hackenburg, Senior

It’s hard to believe this instant classic is twelve years old this year. Will Ferrell stars as the lovable Buddy the Elf who, after being raised by elves in the North Pole, makes the trek to New York City to find his real dad, whom he is shocked to find on Santa’s Naughty List. With such iconic scenes as Buddy pressing all the elevator buttons because it “looks like a Christmas tree” and classic lines such as “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and shoved eleven cookies into the VCR,” this movie is just as endearing and funny with every viewing as it was the first time you saw it.

2) The Polar Express (2004)

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The Polar Express is my favorite movie because it’s a fun and heartfelt Christmas movie. When I watch it I feel like a little kid again, with the anticipation building up for Christmas Day. The idea of the bell and how only those who believe in Santa can hear it is an idea that really warms my heart. And on that topic, when my oldest nephew was about two or so he went on a Polar Express train ride. At the end, he got a bell from Santa just like the ones in the movie and for Christmas that year he gave to me as a gift. It was probably the most heartfelt gift I’ve ever received. The bell and the overall movie is just a really good reminder to myself about what Christmas is all about. It’s not about the presents or the cookies – it’s about believing in something bigger than oneself. It’s about the magic of the season bringing people together and it’s about being happy. The Polar Express reminds me of this magic every time I watch it. Also, I just really love the “Hot Chocolate” song on the train ride in the movie.” – Maureen Mierke, Junior

Maureen basically said it all. Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg and starring Tom Hanks in various roles, this movie stunned audiences with its beautiful and realistic animation and the childlike wonder it inspires. If you don’t tear up when “Hero Girl” and “Lonely Boy” (they’re never given actual names) sing “When Christmas Comes to Town,” your heart just may be two sizes too small. And yes, I know that’s not from The Polar Express. You get my point.

3) A Christmas Story (1983)

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“It’s my favorite because every single year my family and I watch the 24-hour showing of it on TBS.” – Cheyenne Buckingham, Junior

As Cheyenne said, this movie is so dearly loved by audiences old and young that it has its own 24-hour marathon every year. Nearly everyone is familiar with the leg lamp and the image of Ralphie’s poor little brother Randy lying in the snow, unable to get up due to the numerous layers of winter clothing forced onto him by his mother. The movie was largely filmed in Cleveland and the Christmas Story house is now open to visitors as a museum.

4) The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

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Now for a couple of my personal favorite Christmas movies. Before you groan and dismiss this choice because it features the Muppets, I’m going to need you to stop and give this film a chance. This adaptation of Dickens’s famous tale is so popular that Buzzfeed proclaimed it “the best Carol of them all,” and for good reason. Michael Caine and Kermit the Frog are a perfect Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, respectively. You will laugh out loud at the narration provided by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, and you will be appropriately scared out of your wits by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (it looks very much like a Dementor from the Harry Potter universe). Your heart is guaranteed to grow three sizes – again, I’m aware that that’s a reference to a different story – and you will be humming all the catchy tunes for days afterward.

5) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

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No holiday movie list would be complete without this timeless tale from director Frank Capra. The style of this movie has been copied time and time again by numerous television shows and other films, but nothing compares to the original. Although the greater part of the film doesn’t actually take place at Christmastime, the holiday season seems to be the perfect time for viewing this flick with your loved ones and a cup of hot chocolate. You’ll empathize with poor George Bailey (portrayed excellently by the inimitable Jimmy Stewart) as he grows from an ambitious child with big dreams to an adult exhausted by the reality of life who can never seem to catch a break. You will shed a happy tear when George sees how many lives he’s touched and how different the world would have been without him, and you will smile when you hear Zuzu’s oft-repeated line, “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!” This story will continue to resonate for generations to come because so many people can relate to George’s plight and because it ends on a joyful note. As Clarence Odbody says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

7 Most Wanted Gifts for the Fashionistas

Holiday seasons are always full of joyful things and this year should be no exception. We have tastefully put together a list for you to shop for the wonderful fashionistas in your life! Everything on this list can be found in the boutiques on Court Street. So let’s peek into it!

1. Those that say you will never be complete without a pair of TOMS. Now it is a perfect time to get them for the seasonal colors are hard to come by!

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$49.99 At Figleaf

2. Who doesn’t need a pop of red to stand out in the dead of winter when everyone else around you is wearing dull colors? This multicolor wool beanie has a protective inner layer of fleece that will add extra warmth to your body when the snow is blowing on you.

The Other Place
$11.99 at The Other Place

3. Starting to see the trend going on here? Bet you are! Burgundy, magenta, and just very intense, bright, saturated reds are the most sought after this season. Get them for the ones you love before they are gone, who doesn’t need an extra pair of leggings anyway?

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2 for $16 at The Other Place

4. Flannel scarves are always going to be in trend whether or not you decide to move to mars one day. The color-block ones are especially guaranteed to make your fashionistas smile because they are highly versatile and will add more texture to your look.

The Other Place
$16.99 at The Other Place

5. Now some really fun things. This would probably be the cutest hat you would find on Court Street. CVS is now carrying Christmas hats and there are a few other options that you could choose from. $5.99 at local CVS.

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6. These puffy earmuffs could be perfect stocking fillers. They are popular for the fun colors and the portable sizes. $25 at The Other Place

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7. Finally, some treats! Ghirardelli never fails to come up with the most festive packaging designs that you just could not walk away from. Chocolate is the most chic and delightful gift of all time.

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Left $4.99 Right $6.99 at local CVS

 

15 thoughts on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

For 89 years, all of America has shared in one Thanksgiving tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is broadcast on NBC for three hours and takes up about 2. 5 miles of New York’s streets.

The 2015 parade featured 17 giant balloons, 12 marching bands, 27 floats and close to the same number of celebrities.

Watching the parade isn’t my personal family tradition, but I sat through the broadcast to see what all the hubbub was about. Here are my thoughts:

1. Loving that the first hour of the parade is actually dedicated to Broadway and not the actual parade. Is that so the rest of it can catch up on the 2.5 mile walk?

2. As much as I’m all for an hour of Broadway, the Macy’s parade isn’t the greatest outlet to showcase something rooted in live performance. The performances really lacked the luster they typically have. Even Something Rotten!‘s fabulous “A Musical” number was tarnished by lip sync.

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3. The casts of The King and IFinding Neverland and School of Rock the Musical didn’t even have mics on. At least pretend, you’re not lip syncing.

4. NBC really capitalizes on the event. It not only had the cast of The Wiz Live! perform a sneak peek, but it also had random interviews with the celebrities of its upcoming shows Telenovela and Superstore, in addition to already-airing Blindspot.

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5.  What other time do you get to hear Matt Lauer explain the premise of Spongebob Squarepants as the giant square balloon floats by? Magic.

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6. Who decides which artist is paired with which float? As in, who decided Daughtry would best pair with the Avocados from Mexico float? And Shawn Mendes on Pirate’s Booty?
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7. While we’re talking about the acts, who picks the lineup? Since when have the Plain White T’s or Daughtry been relevant? How about Christian rock group MercyMe? Shout out to whoever got Pat Benatar though. That was outstanding.

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8. When does Underdog get away again?

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9. Snoopy and Woodstock are still my favorite balloons. Snoopy has appeared in the parade more than any other character.

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10. How much do viewers at home miss when they cut to advertisements? Wouldn’t you be super disappointed if you were that marching band or that dance group that got skipped over?

11. What does it take to help hold the balloons? Apparently, a decent amount.

12. Matt Lauer and Al Roker, for whatever reason, found it hilarious that Savannah Guthrie said “nut mobile” when Planters had its turn in the parade. Either that’s an inside joke or they are just as immature as the masses.

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13. The adults dancing on the floats are living life right now with their corny-as-hell moves while the actual children look rather miserable.

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14. The puns are out of this world. Thank you Savannah for this gem: Pikachu has an “always electric” personality.

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15. Instead of having dozens of lip syncing artists, feature more performance groups, such as the 610 Stompers and the Kruti Dance Academy. Those are acts most people don’t typically get to see and they can actually display their talents and not just mouth along to it.

If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t a longstanding tradition in your family, you probably won’t get why it’s such a big deal. It’s quite a spectacle. Macy’s spends an undisclosed amount on it, and it shows. It’s not something viewers need to dedicate three hours to, but it’s worth it to have it on in the background while you prep Thanksgiving dinner and set the table.

Volunteers help Passion Works artists flower

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?

The holiday season brings people together.

Thanksgiving, in particular, enables family members across the United States to gather around the same table to enjoy a smorgasbord of fall-inspired delicacies, to celebrate their gratitude for one another. This Thanksgiving, Court Street Stories wants to place the emphasis on showing thanks by giving back to those in the community who appreciate it most. Passion Works Studio is one place where your presence and time is valued.

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Noah Hogan shows off his bird house, a project he has been working on for two weeks.

Passion Works Studio is a nonprofit organization— located at 20 E. State St. in Athens— that employs adults with and without disabilities as artists. And volunteers are always needed.

“We love the student volunteering aspect of this place,” says Alyssa Cardwell, the lead production artist at Passion Works Studio. “Our artists love that they get to meet new people, share their stories, artwork and a few laughs even. It’s a great connection.”

Cardwell says the studio serves three specific purposes:

1. It’s an art therapy program.

“It allows our artists to express their creativity and get their expressions out there for the community to see,” says Cardwell.

2. It gives artists a sense of individualism by offering the opportunity to make money.

“When their artwork sells here, they get 50% of the profit,” Cardwell explains.

The other half goes toward the studio to fund materials and operating expenses. Artwork can range from a painting or drawing on canvas, paper, sculptures— you name it. Another way artists can make a profit is by working on the Passion flowers that are displayed all across campus, most notably in coffee shops like Donkey and Front Room. Cardwell best describes this intricate piece of art as an involved process.

“Each step is done by one of our artists, and they get paid an hourly rate,” Cardwell says.

They work, hands on, from start to finish. All she does is drill the petals into a wooden block and the rest is the artists’ creation.

Artists also can make money earning a designer fee. Their drawing or painting can be mass produced and printed onto products like jewelry, mugs and tiles if they create a stellar image.

“When we see a strong piece like that, we think it would be cool to make multiples of it by putting it on a magnet or mug [for example],” Cardwell says. “We pay those artists a designer fee for that image so we can use it over and over again — they get a pretty decent compensation for that image.”

3. Community integration.

“Here at Passion Works we are very much involved with the community. We have a lot of art installations on Court Street, buildings at the university and the Essence of Athens, [which] pushes for this beautification of Athens through the arts,” says Cardwell.

The studio invites members of the community in to boost awareness about the group of people who are bringing this art to life. Just recently, a group of home-schooled children came in to assist the artists in making holiday cards. Together, they made cards to send to their relatives. They also formed friendships in the process.

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Artist Sarina loves to incorporate the colors pink and purple into her pieces.

At Passion Works, volunteering most times just means sitting down with artists, helping them however they may ask and then walking away having a made new friends. Building genuine relationships is what makes artists’ spirits thrive, even if it’s just for an hour each week.

Madeline Keener, junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Ohio University, began volunteering in the middle of September 2015, initially because of a story she pitched to Backdrop magazine.

“I was working on a story for a publication, and it was about a man who is actually one of the artists at Passion Works. [Volunteering] was another way to get to know him and observe him,” explains Keener.

That story was submitted in the beginning of October and Keener still goes to volunteer every Monday she can from 8-10 a.m. She says it’s the feeling she gets after spending some time with the artists that keeps her coming back.

“After I volunteer at Passion Works, I feel happy. I have a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for these people that always welcome me with smiles and high fives,” Keener says. “It just really brightens my day to be able to just hang out and get know these artists.”

Getting started at Passion Works Studio is quite simple. Visit the website and click on the “Get Involved” tab and then select “Volunteer.” Print out the one-page paper, fill it out and then bring it into the studio for a brief orientation. You could start that very day.

“To me it’s [just about] being there for them and providing them a way for their voice to be heard and feel like they are a part of this community,” says Cardwell.