Merle Haggard: The Last Outlaw of Country Music

Don’t let Merle Haggard fool you. In spite of the squeaky clean lyrics rooted within the minimalist melodies of the musical cowboy’s most recognizable song, the “Okie from Muskogee” singer was a pot smoking, cocaine sniffing, serial monogamist with a penchant for tussling with the law.

Merle HaggardBorn and raised on the outskirts of Bakersfield, Haggard was a troublemaker by nature and a hellraiser by choice. But his recreational drug use, tiffs with the law, and innumerable marriages aside, Haggard was a pioneer of the Bakersfield sound and a proponent of the outlaw country movement, which is why the somber news of his passing on April 6 – his 79th birthday – was all the more heartrending.

Haggard’s blue collar anthems and true to life ballads gave country enthusiasts everywhere a lip smacking taste of the boonies by serving up songs that were chock-full of patriotic undertones and illuminated the unenviable plight of the working man. From “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Mama Tried” to “If We Make It Through December” and “Workin’ Man Blues,” Haggard laid it all on the line with his authentic lyrics and sanguine southern melodies.

Like his peers Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, Haggard aligned himself with the growing outlaw country movement throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The revival of the raw honky-tonk sound cemented Haggard’s status as a country music icon and aided in making him a bona fide Country Music Hall of Famer by 1994.

Asked whether or not he feared death in an interview with Billboard last year, the country crooner answered:

“Sometimes I fear it and other times it calls to me like a forgotten dream or an old song. I’m not saying I welcome it, but I recognize it as part of a holy process. Born of nature, return to nature. Maybe that’s the name of my last song.”

With that, we honor the country music legend with a tip of the old cowboy hat and a lit joint for the road.

Hold Onto Your Hair Extensions, the RHONJ Ladies Are Back

The ladies of The Real Housewives of New Jersey will be returning for an all new season later this year. Go on and flip a table if you just can’t contain your excitement!

After more than a year since the conclusion of season six, which left off with Teresa Giudice gearing up for her yearlong prison stint, fans of Bravo’s Garden State franchise have been anxiously awaiting the return of the hit show since the end of 2014.

The cameras have been rolling since mid-December, and while a seventh season has been confirmed, a premiere date has not yet been announced.

With Teresa’s recent release from prison, the season is sure to center on the hotheaded housewife’s homecoming and emotional reunion with her family. Although with Teresa’s husband heading off to fulfill his own prison sentence at the end of this month, the focus will most definitely shift to her adjustment to family life sans Juicy Joe.

RHONJTeresa’s sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga, is also slated to return. Her storyline will most likely emphasize the recent opening of her upscale fashion boutique, envy by Melissa Gorga.

Former housewives Dina Manzo, Amber Marchese, and twins Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano have all been given the boot (is anyone really that upset?), which means fan favorite Jacqueline Laurita will once again be joining the cast as a season regular. All eyes will surely be on Jacqueline and Teresa’s notoriously turbulent friendship.

So, who else will be joining the cast?

Executive producer and Real Housewives puppet master Andy Cohen has been tightlipped with regards to the names and identities of the season seven newbies. But with series regulars Teresa, Melissa, and Jacqueline onboard, there’s sure to be no shortage of drama!

5 Films to Watch at Sundance Film Festival

Indie film enthusiasts and members of Hollywood’s elite flock to Park City, Utah each year to celebrate the work of independent filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival. This year’s festival ran from Jan. 21-31 and boasted a variety of films ranging from inspirational and austere dramas to spirited and heartrending comedies. Be sure to check out these five films that are definitely worth the watch!


Maggie’s Plan

Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a fastidious single girl who falls head over heels for neglected married man, John Harding (Ethan Hawke). John swiftly leaves his wife, Georgette (Julianne Moore), but after several years, the tables turn and Maggie finds herself in the unwanted role of derelict wife and mother. It’s then that Maggie devises an absurd plan to reunite John with his ex-wife.


Ellen Page plays the title character in this dramedy about a free-spirit who knowingly kidnaps the baby of an affluent trophy wife. With nowhere else to turn, Tallulah shows up on the doorstep of her ex-boyfriend’s mother (Allison Janney), and the two bond over caring for the baby while a massive manhunt is underway on the New York City streets below.

Other People

David (Jesse Plemons) is a struggling TV writer who returns home to Sacramento to look after his cancer-stricken mother, Joanne (Molly Shannon). This dark comedy poignantly chronicles Joanne’s final days and comically illustrates how she and her family get through them with distressed laughs and a few heartbroken tears.

Morris From America

Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas) is a teenager forced to move from Virginia to Germany when his father, Curtis (Craig Robinson), lands a new job as the coach of a local soccer team. Morris must adapt to his new, sometimes discriminatory, surroundings all while experiencing the normal teen angst and fledgling emotions that come with growing up.


This biopic tackles the real life tragedy of Florida television news reporter, Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall). The film recounts the tormented life of Chubbuck and provides viewers with a behind the scenes look at the mishandled depression that drove a young woman with a promising career to commit suicide on the air in 1974. With Michael C. Hall playing the part of George, Christine’s unrequited love interest, the film is a profound character study of a lost woman with deep psychological issues.

5 Must-Have Cooking Essentials for the Millennial Chef

Millennials have gotten a bad rap as far as cooking is concerned. For whatever reason, older generations seem to think that millennials are ill-equipped to carry out even the most basic of lessons from Cooking 101.

Listen, we may not be gourmet chefs, but we’re certainly capable of boiling a pot of water.


The millennial way of cooking may not be what older generations are used to, but we all have the same end goal in mind – to prepare delicious, healthy meals from the comfort of our own kitchen.

Want to try your hand at the millennial way of cooking? Here’s a list of 5 must-have cooking essentials that every millennial chef uses to whip up yummy eats in their own kitchen.

1. Phones

USED (14)Millennials don’t want to paw through grandma’s old recipe box for a new dish to try out. With the convenience of high speed internet right at their fingertips, millennials are turning to the web to surf for recipes and cooking tips online. Cookbooks are out and smartphones are in. In fact, ask any millennial what their biggest fear in the kitchen is and they’ll likely give you the same answer – spilling something on their phone.

2. Reliable Appliances

The keyword here is reliable. Most millennials are surviving the post-grad life by the skin of their teeth, and high-end kitchen appliances just aren’t in the budget. All a millennial chef really requires to concoct a quick and easy meal are dependable appliances that’ll get the job done. Microwave? Check. Stovetop? Check. Oven? Check. Maybe save the Sub-Zero refrigerator and Thermador cooktop for when you start making more than $10 an hour.

3. Pinterest

pinterest-793051It’s true that millennials have gone crazy for Pinterest. With one simple search, Pinterest will compile a whole list of recipes, grocery shopping lists, and helpful equipment tips for any novice chef. Click on one pin and you’ll soon find yourself redirected to dozens of food blogs, step by step tutorials, and cheeky how-to videos. Don’t have time to try out that beef noodle stir-fry recipe? Pin it to one of your boards for later!

4. Fresh Ingredients

Eating healthy foods and preparing nutritious meals are all in a day’s work for today’s millennial. That’s why most of them regularly stock up on wholesome ingredients. The greener, the better! Fresh herbs and spices, all-natural meats, and organic fruits and vegetables are some of the food staples found in most millennial kitchens. Of course, there’s always room for Kraft Easy Mac and Chef Boyardee, too.

5. Basic Cooking Equipment

pot-544071Sure, everyone dreams of one day owning their very own KitchenAid stand mixer, but all a millennial really needs is a big pot, a solid pan, and a few different cooking utensils. (Although a well-built crockpot doesn’t hurt, either!) So until the moms of the world are willing to pass down their baking stones and cast iron skillets, millennials are forced to do without the more sophisticated pieces of modern cookware.

Wrapping It Up

Like it or not, millennials are here to stay, and though the millennial way of cooking isn’t the norm for the older folk, it works pretty darn well for today’s younger generation. You now have all the tools and wisdom you need to go strap on an apron and start cooking like a millennial!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a pot of boiling water I need to go check on.

Winter Cocktails

The weather outside is absolutely frightful. With the snow and freezing temperatures forcing most of us to remain cooped up in the house, it’s enough to drive a person crazy! So on those chilly nights when you’ve no place to go, what better way to weather the cold than by whipping up some delicious winter cocktails?

These 5 drink recipes are sure to warm you up in no time!

Kahlúa Hot Chocolate

(Yields 2 Servings)


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa coffee liqueur
  • Mini marshmallows, for serving
  • Salted caramel, for serving
  • Chocolate syrup, for serving


  • In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg over medium heat until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in Kahlúa.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with mini marshmallows, salted caramel and chocolate syrup, if desired.

Winter Apple Pear + Cranberry Sangria

(Yields 1 Pitcher)


  • 1 bottle (750mL) sparkling wine
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole pear, seeded and chopped (or 1/2 each green and red Anjou pears)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • Chop fruit and combine with cranberries and cinnamon stick in bottom of pitcher.
  • Combine liquid and cinnamon. Pour over fruit. Stir well.
  • Chill for a few hours or overnight. Stir again and enjoy!

Winter Bourbon Smash

(Yields 1 Serving)


  • 2 tablespoons preserves or jam of choice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon triple sec
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Orange segments
  • A splash of club soda


  • Add 1/2 cup ice, preserves, bourbon, triple sec and orange juice to a shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
  • Pour into serving glass with a few ice cubes and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with orange slices and enjoy. Repeat for more drinks.

The Nor’easter

(Yields 1 Serving)


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce maple syrup
  • Ginger Beer


  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the bourbon, lime juice and maple syrup.
  • Shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Top with ginger beer. (If you don’t have ginger beer you can substitute ginger ale but the cocktail will be sweeter.)

White Russian

(Yields 1 Serving)


  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 3/4 ounce coffee liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce light cream
  • 1 sprinkle nutmeg


  • Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass.
  • Gently top with the cream.
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and serve.

Larry David is Pretty…Pretty…Pretty Good

What’s that? You don’t know who Larry David is? Shame!

You may think you’ve been unfairly shielded from the off-kilter comedic style of Larry David, but odds are you’ve probably experienced it already. Ever hear of a little show called Seinfeld? Well, Larry David is the co-creator.

Here’s a lesson:

If A = You and B = Seinfeld, then A + B = You’re a fan of Larry David.*

(*Editor’s Note: I failed just about every math class I ever took.)

But seriously, if you come home from work and watch Seinfeld on TBS from 6-8pm and then tune into PIX11 before bed to watch even more Seinfeld from 11pm-12am, then it stands to reason that you will love Larry David.

Larry David, everyone's favorite curmudgeon.
Larry David, everyone’s favorite curmudgeon.

Like many of us starving artists (although I don’t think I’ve skipped a meal since college when I had mono for a semester), Larry David started out as an aspiring creative just looking to get a foot in the door somewhere. He struggled to make it as a stand-up comedian, performing in some of the darkest and dingiest comedy clubs in New York City while simultaneously working odd jobs to pay the bills. He rose to fame in the late ‘80s after teaming up with fellow comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, to create one of the greatest television shows of all time. In 2000, Larry penned a deal with HBO to develop his own comedy television show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which Larry plays a fictionalized – but equally hilarious – version of himself. Thanks to Curb, Larry will likely go down in history as everyone’s favorite curmudgeon. (By the way, if you haven’t yet checked out Curb Your Enthusiasm, what are you waiting for??)

There are a million reasons to love Larry David, but here are my top five:

1. He speaks his mind.

Some may even call him a “social assassin.” Larry will never shy away from saying exactly what he’s feeling or thinking. In fact, nine times out of ten he’ll probably blurt out what you’re too afraid to verbalize.

Larry David
Larry David speaks his mind.

2. He’s a good tipper.

I’ve never worked in the service industry but I certainly appreciate the people who do, and so I have a whole lot of respect for good tippers. On Curb, Larry isn’t shy when it comes to opening up his wallet. Say what you want about his social skills, but the man knows how tip!

Larry David
Larry David is a good tipper.

3. He’s a New Yorker.

Although Larry resides in Los Angeles, he’s a native New Yorker. As a Jersey girl, myself, there will always be a special place in my heart for any actor/comedian/writer/showman who hails from the Big Apple. Larry sports that no nonsense attitude (unique to New Yorkers) wherever he goes. And you’ve gotta respect that.

Larry David
Larry David is a native New Yorker.

4. No one is off limits to him.

Men, women, children, it doesn’t matter – everyone is fair game to Larry David. As established in #1, Larry will always tell it like it is even if that means insulting the fairer sex or small youngsters. No one is immune to Larry’s blunt and boorish disposition.

Larry David
No one is off limits to Larry David.

5. He respects wood.

Okay, so this one is super specific to Curb Your Enthusiasm. (One more reason you really need to watch the show!) Growing up, Mom taught me to ALWAYS USE A COASTER because water rings are the cancer equivalent in the wood world. Larry David’s mother must’ve given him this same lecture since he sees nothing wrong with openly bombarding fellow party-goers with a barrage of questions that includes, “Do you respect wood?”

Larry David
Larry David respects wood.

Larry David is my hero, and you know what they say about heroes – you should never meet them! But I’d gladly test this theory with Larry because I don’t think I’d be disappointed. As the title of this post indicates, Larry David is pretty…pretty…pretty good.

Photo Sources:,,,,,

Cabbage Night

‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the ‘hood, the local kids were all scheming…they were up to no good.

A poet I am not.

October 30th, the night before Halloween, is an unofficial holiday celebrated by teens and preteens in many states across the U.S. A night of complete and total (yet seemingly organized and supervised) debauchery. An opportunity for youngsters in the neighborhood to carry out the “trick” in “trick-or-treat.” We called it Cabbage Night where I grew up, although I’ve heard a few other variations used in Jersey, namely Mischief Night and Goosey Night.

Based on my own experiences, there were two types of kids who observed this informal holiday – the ones who dressed up in dark clothes and stuffed their backpacks with toilet paper, shaving cream, and eggs, and the ones who vowed to stand guard outside of their parents’ houses all night with a garden hose aimed at anyone who dared to cross their property line.

I was one of the delinquents.

To be fair, the antics that my friends and I would stir up were relatively mild. Toilet paper in trees, shaving cream in mailboxes, chalk writing on driveways. Heck, the very first year I went out I can remember going through the bathroom closet at my own house looking for whatever I could find to wreak havoc. Unfortunately for me, all I found was a bar of soap and a can of gel shaving cream. Look out, world, here I come! Across the board, the damage done in my small town was usually minimal with most of the supplies being used on one another. (Not a year went by that I didn’t come home covered from head to toe in shaving cream.) Even so, driving through town on Halloween morning was always a sight to see.

If I’m being honest, the only house I ever really vandalized was my own. My friend Stephanie and I bought all of the necessary supplies ahead of time and did my house up real good one year – the works! It was meant to be a harmless prank that I’d immediately fess up to once I saw the stunned looks on my parents’ faces, but all bets were off when my mom started crying hysterically because she thought we’d been “targeted” and my dad was one popped blood vessel away from getting the police involved. In fact, I’m 27-years-old now and I only just confessed to this crime a couple of years ago. My parents still didn’t find it funny.

Cabbage Night, 2003.
Cabbage Night, 2003

Of course, in every small town there are a few bad eggs. (No pun intended.) One year, someone was hospitalized after being shot at close range with a paintball gun. Another time, a couple of roman candles were set off at someone’s front door. Eggs have been thrown through living room windows and shaving cream has permanently damaged the paint on some cars. The ones that take advantage of the night and act as though they’re starring in The Purge* are the ones that ruin it for everybody else. Nowadays, it seems like most towns have police officers patrolling every nook and cranny and strict town wide curfews are enforced. Not a bad idea as it turns out.

While my nights of running around town with toiletries may be over, I can still appreciate Cabbage Night for what it is – a stupid tradition that gives children and teens an excuse to let loose and have some harmless fun. Well, at least that’s my stance on it now. Ask me my opinion in a few years when I’m a homeowner…I’m sure my views on the night will have changed. (“Aaron, is that Charmin hanging off the maple in the front yard? Those damn kids!!”)

(*Editor’s Note: Good movie to watch on Halloween!)

Crumb Apple Pie

You’ve gotta love the fall!

Wearing warm sweaters, watching the leaves change colors, eating pumpkin spice everything, and best of all – apple picking! I make a point of going apple picking every year. It’s a fantastic opportunity to check out for a while, enjoy the outdoors, and nosh on all the apples I want.

This year, I stopped by Sun High Orchards in Randolph, NJ. From the quaint country store to the intoxicating aroma of pies, cookies, and donuts, Sun High Orchards really teased all of my senses and left an overwhelming feeling of FALL in the air. The place was flooded with families looking to pick some apples, stroll through the cornfields, enjoy a hayride, and pick out the perfect pumpkin from the patch.

At the end of the day, I came home with four huge bags filled to the brim with at least six different kinds of apples. But what were we going to do with ALL these apples? Why, make apple pie, of course!

There are a million different ways to make apple pie. Some people prefer the traditional apple pie with the flaky crust, but I always go the crumb topping route.

  • 1 frozen deep dish pie crust
  • 6 apples
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter (softened but firm)

First, peel and cut the apples into slices and place into a bowl. (Don’t cut the slices too thin, otherwise the filling will turn out mushy!) Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, nutmeg, and allspice to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Next, pour the filling into the deep dish pie crust.

To make the crumb topping, combine the flour, dark brown sugar, and softened butter in a separate bowl. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until you’re left with a crumbly mixture. Place the crumb topping onto the apple filling.

With the oven preheated to 375 degrees, place the pie in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, cover with foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Once the pie has baked for the full 50 minutes, remove from the oven and let it cool. Enjoy!

Crumb Apple Pie
Crumb Apple Pie – FALL IS HERE!!!


Sick of Being Sick

It all started last Sunday night. There was a tickle in my throat and my nose was starting to drip. *Cough, cough.* Oh no, am I burning up?? Getting sick is a nightmare. Missing work, using up sick days, and feeling all around miserable is not what the doctor ordered. There is literally nothing good that can come out of being sick as an adult, but when I was a kid it was one of the BEST DAYS EVER!!!

Not even a spoonful of sugar could help this medicine go down.
Not even a spoonful of sugar could help this medicine go down.

I’d whimper and whine in bed for a little while to let Mom know that whatever I had was extremely serious and incredibly contagious. (Even if it wasn’t.) As she’d place the back of her hand first on my forehead and then on the side of my neck, I’d sit and wait with anticipation for the next words to come out of her mouth. “You do feel a little warm.” SCORE!! With Mom’s blessing, the world was my oyster for at least one day.

No doubt about it, missing school was the ultimate perk to getting sick. No boring lectures, no math problems (to attempt) to solve, and no smushed brown bagged lunches. Another perk? Daytime TV! For once, I didn’t have to fight my siblings for jurisdiction over the remote control and I was given the rare opportunity to check out all of the wonderful TV I usually missed while my eyes were glazing over in a classroom. What’s this show? It looks like some sort of a talk show, but no one’s sitting down. Everyone’s throwing chairs and getting into fistfights. How can her baby have five possible fathers? And what’s a final thought? (The naivety of discovering The Jerry Springer Show.)

If I milked my sickness enough, Mom would suggest a trip to the doctor’s office. Ordinarily, this suggestion would not be well received, but if I was in the mood to indulge myself in consecutive days off from school, this was the only option. After all, a ten minute exam in a room covered with Care Bears and Fred Flintstone on the walls was a small price to pay for multiple days off from school.

When I was a kid, Mom was my Florence Nightingale. She gave me my medicine, she served all of my meals to me in bed, and she made sure that I never experienced a shortage of tissues. When I come down with something now, I have to take care of myself. A ten step stroll from the living room couch to the refrigerator to retrieve a glass of water is the equivalent of a 5K relay. It’s up to me to pick up medicine, keep track of the dosage, and make sure that the apartment is fully stocked with tissues!

Oh, to be a kid again!

As an adult, there is no enjoyment factor that comes along with taking a sick day. Co-workers depend on me at work, I have deadlines that must be met, and a trip to the doctor can set me back a couple hundred bucks! (Plus, I’m old enough now to realize that daytime TV stinks.) Yup, getting sick as an adult is the pits. Oh, well. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s about time for my next shot of DayQuil. ACHOO.

You Jump, I Jump…Right?!

There are certain movies that’ll always make you shed a tear no matter how many times you’ve seen ’em. It’s science. Even though you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the inevitable death, heartbreak, sickness, and/or tragedy that you already know is coming, the moment that scene plays out on the screen, you know you’re in trouble. Without fail, those big, fat teardrops suddenly begin to cascade down your cheeks with absolutely no sign of letting up! For me, these are the movies guaranteed to provoke a serious sob fest. (Spoilers ahead!) Brace yourself – here come the waterworks!

The year was 1998. I was in the 4th grade and this movie had just come out in theaters. A friend of mine opted to have an “At the Movies” themed birthday party that year and her flick pick was this Susan Sarandon/Julia Roberts dramedy. Julia Roberts? Okay, I’ll bite. I had no idea what this movie was about, but Julia Roberts was in it! I’d seen her in Pretty Woman, Hook, My Best Friend’s Wedding – this was sure to be a feel good comedy! Once the lights dimmed, I settled into my seat and started to stuff my face with popcorn and jujyfruits. I was ready to escape to movie land and laugh to my heart’s content! Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that this movie was nothing like the other Julia Roberts movies I’d seen. Although there were some comedic undertones, Stepmom was truly a tearjerker. The movie revolves around a terminally ill mother dying of cancer (Sarandon) and the way in which she deals with her ex-husband’s new, and much younger, soon-to-be wife (Roberts). What WAS funny was how quickly ten precocious, little girls began sobbing uncontrollably in the theater.

The Notebook
You know when you’re trying to hold back tears and you suddenly experience that annoying sensation that something is stuck in the middle of your throat? Yeah, that’s how I feel every time I sit down to watch The Notebook. What’s sadder than an old-fashioned love story that ends with one of the pair succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease? Nothing, that’s what. It’s the 1940s in South Carolina and Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) are young and in love. Of course, they come from two different worlds and certain people want to see them apart. Their relationship ends in a heart-wrenching sort of way, but they eventually rekindle their romance and live happily ever after. That is, until we find out that the dual storyline of an old man reading this exact love story to an old woman with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home is actually the older versions of Allie and Noah! Pass the tissues, please! If you’ve ever been in love (and you have grandparents) this movie will certainly strike a chord.

79Forrest Gump
Stupid is as stupid does. Snivel. Forrest Gump is one of my all time favorite movies. I just love how the storyline takes the audience on a journey through time, showing major, historical events unfold through the eyes of an intellectually challenged individual. But despite the fantastic plot and sensational lineup of characters, the film is not without it’s fair share of heartbreaking moments. Forrest’s (Tom Hanks) unyielding love for the deeply troubled and terribly tragic Jenny. Forrest’s mother gettin’ the cancer and dying on a Tuesday. Lieutenant Dan losing his legs. Bubba dying right there by that river in Viet-NAM. And as soon as big Forrest bends down in front of Jenny’s grave and places little Forrest’s letter under that tree, I just lose it!

Old Yeller
I grew up on Disney movies. (What kid didn’t?) But in addition to watching all of the animated flicks on repeat, my siblings and I fell hard for Old Yeller. Set in Texas post-Civil War, simply put, Old Yeller is about a boy and his dog. Boy meets dog. Boy hates dog. Boy learns to love dog. Boy and dog experience a ton of adventures together. Dog saves boy from rabid wolf. Dog gets rabies. Boy must shoot dog. Dog dies. That about sums up the movie, doesn’t it? Are you crying yet?

Let’s face it, if you don’t cry while watching Titanic then you have no soul! When this movie came out in 1997, I went to go see it with my mom and sister. What with all the hype surrounding this blockbuster, the theater was jam packed with people. I can remember having to sit next to an older woman who hogged the armrest like it was her chief calling in life. We even exchanged a few vicious elbow jabs and snarky, whispered remarks. But once the Titanic struck the iceberg, we immediately lightened up on one another. We both yelled at the screen when Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is arrested and handcuffed to a pipe down below. We both gasped in horror when Rose (Kate Winslet) is struggling to find him (giant ax in tow) before the bottom decks flood. And we nearly embraced one another in sadness when Rose didn’t make enough room on that GIANT door for Jack. By the time Jack dies and slowly sinks down into the Atlantic Ocean, that old battle-axe and I were best friends.

Father of the Bride
This movie is particularly fitting for my current life situation since I’m in the midst of planning a wedding with my own mother and father. Steve Martin plays the title role in this comedy about a father, George Banks, whose number one concern in life is how much his daughter’s wedding is going to cost him. (Dad, are your ears ringing??) George doesn’t care what flavor the cake should be or which type of flowers should adorn the altar. Instead, he keeps a close eye on his bank account and succumbs to mini freak-outs each time his balance goes down a cent. This 1991 version of Father of the Bride is a remake of the original starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, but it’s the only version I knew as a kid growing up, and it’s the only version that makes me cry. Watching the flashback scenes of George with his little girl, Annie, always seems to tug at my heartstrings and I instantly begin to picture myself as that little girl shooting hoops with dad in the driveway. Hmm, come to think of it, I wonder if I have my own father’s mini freak-outs to look forward to.

81The Breakfast Club
I know, this isn’t your typical tearjerker. In fact, it’s not really a tearjerker at all! But hear me out. This 1985 John Hughes film follows a group of misfit high school students as they ride out their detentions together in the school’s library on a Saturday. A Saturday! (No, that’s not the reason this movie makes me cry.) It’s all fun and games during the majority of the day with the teenagers playing pranks on the assistant principal and running amok through the halls. But fast-forward to the scene where the athlete, the princess, the criminal, the basket case, and the brain are all sitting in a circle sharing stories about their life and your disposition will instantly change. Abusive households, a constant pressure from friends and family to fit in or be the best, suicide. Things get real! Hell, I even shed a tear at the end of the movie when John Bender (ahem, the criminal) walks through the school’s football field and pumps his fist in the air! But then I’ve always been the sensitive type.

I went to go see Up with a few of my friends back when it first came out in 2009. I was actually pretty hesitant to even give Up a chance. After all, aren’t animated films just for kids? Turns out, they’re not. The first ten minutes of the movie tell the story of Carl (Ed Asner) and Ellie (Elizabeth Docter). First we see them as two 8-year-old children who idolize the famous explorer, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), and go on adventures of their very own. As the years go by, we see all of Carl and Ellie’s ups and downs through life. They get married, they restore an old house together, and they suffer a miscarriage. But they persevere and save up to visit a place they’ve always wanted to go called Paradise Falls. Then suddenly, Ellie dies. Believe me when I tell you that I was legitimately balling within those first ten minutes. The three friends I had gone to the movies with all looked down the row at me and just started to laugh. (It should be said that I’m pretty bad at hiding my emotions.) The rest of the film takes the audience through Carl’s final adventure as he literally flies his house (with 10,000 balloons!) to Paradise Falls. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out! Just make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand.

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