“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” ~ Roger Ebert

vertigo

” A lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock 

“Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater” ~ Roman Polanski

Today is at least 25 degrees cooler than yesterday. It’s overcast and windy and therefore, the perfect day to compile my favorite 100 movies.

kill-bill-vol-2Unlike my top 100 rock ‘n roll songs, which contained 115 songs, I have managed to keep this list to 100 movies, almost. In a few cases, I have listed sequential movies as one listing because it makes more sense. For example, I only used one entry for “Lord of the Rings,” as that was always intended to be one story. The same goes for “Kill Bill,” which was intended to be one movie, but was considered too long for one movie.

On the other hand, I have listed two of the Indiana Jones movies separately because I did not like the second movie. But for “Star Wars,” I only used one entry for episodes 4, 5, and 6, as I view those as one storyline with the same group of actors. I know. I know. More Lola logic.

The movies that I have listed are my favorite movies, not necessarily what I would consider the best movies ever made. I did omit any foreign language films, and some cult classics (like “The Lost Boys” or “Rocky Horror”) because those could be lists of their own. However, the list contains movies spanning six decades and includes musicals, drama, a few comedies, and suspense movies. I have included the main actors rather than the directors, just because.

the-godfatherYou can tell that I am fond of certain actors (Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins) and certain directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Minghella, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Ford Coppola). One thing that may surprise you is the lack of romantic comedies. I am just not a romantic comedy kind of person, preferring instead intense movies with complicated storylines, beautiful cinematography, classics, and science fiction.

I reworked the list at least eight or nine times, removing a few titles and replacing them with movies that I felt were being more true to my preferences. At first, I had included some movies that I like and that were critical favorites, but upon reflection, I realized that they were in fact not my favorites, even though I liked them.

“Movies are like an expensive form of therapy for me.” ~ Tim Burton

You won’t see big blockbusters like “Titanic,” even though I liked it, simply because it was not in my top 100. You will see some movies with which you may not be familiar: “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” “Beyond Rangoon,” “The Red Violin,” “The World According to Garp.” The first and third are movies that have stayed with me over the years that I find much more humorous than the more popular broader comedies such as those by Adam Sandler. “The Red Violin” is one of those movies like “The English Patient” in that its storyline is haunting and remains with you.

beyond-rangoonOf the much older movies, no, I never saw them in the theater. However, I watched many of them over and over again on television in the days before cable. As for “The Ten Commandments,” you are probably surprised by its inclusion, but it was one of those movies that used to be on television every Easter, and I would watch it with my father, who loved it, so I don’t even remember how many times I have seen that or “Ben Hur.” Even though it isn’t necessarily one of my all-time favorite movies, my father loved it, and I loved watching it with him from the time that I was a very young girl.

The rest, well let’s just say that it’s an eclectic list that reflects my eclectic tastes. Please feel free to question entries, suggest others, or argue vociferously over some of the movies that I have included. I would love to hear what other people have to say. Just remember, I called it my favorite 100 movies (a suggestion that I took from Memphis Mafia).

That being said, enjoy.

“The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them.” ~ Mary Schmich

 

My Favorite 100 Movies    

1.            “The English Patient” (Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas)

2.            “Lord of the Rings” (Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin)

3.            “The Usual Suspects” (Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey)

4.            “Shawshank Redemption” (Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman)

5.            “Braveheart” (Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau)

6.            “The Princess Bride” (Cary Elwes, Robin Wright)

7.            “Dead Poets Society” (Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard)

8.            “Silence of the Lambs” (Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster)

9.            “Star Wars: Parts 4-6” (Harrison Ford, Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guiness)

10.       Philadelphia” (Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington)

11.       “The Godfather: Parts 1 and 2” (Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro)

12.       “Se7en” (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey)

 seven usual-suspects

 

13.       Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Harrison Ford, Karen Allen) 

14.       Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (Harrison Ford, Sean Connery)

15.       “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton)

16.       “Pulp Fiction” (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson)

17.       “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, John Cleese)

18.       “Henry V” (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi)

19.       “Sleepers” (Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric)

20.       “Heat” (Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino)

 

heat

monty-python-and-the-holy-grail

 

21.       “Toy Story” (Tom Hanks, Tim Allen)

22.       “The Green Mile” (Tom Hanks, Michael Clark Duncan)

23.       “E.T.” (Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore)

24.       “Gladiator” (Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix)

25.       “Elizabeth/Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Clive Owen)

26.       Brokeback Mountain” (Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal)

27.       “Capote” (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener)

28.       “Children of Men” (Clive Owen, Julianne Moore)

 dangerous-liaisons

sense-and-sensibility

 

29.       “Dangerous Liaisons” (Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer)

30.       “Sense and Sensibility” (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman)

31.       “Schindler’s List” (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes)

32.       Mystic River” (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon)

33.       “A Room With A View” (Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sand)

34.       “Dead Again” (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi)

35.       “Alien” (Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt)

36.       “Beyond Rangoon” (Patricia Arquette, U Aung Ko)

37.       “Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2” (Uma Thurman, David Carradine)

38.       “Witness” (Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis)

39.       “Goldeneye” (Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean)

40.       L.A. Confidential” (Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe)

41.       “Platoon” (Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen)

 

platoonmystic-river 

42.       “The Matrix” (Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss)

43.       “The Bourne Identity” (Matt Damon, Franka Potente)

44.       “Saving Private Ryan” (Tom Hanks, Matt Damon)

45.       “The Untouchables” (Kevin Costner, Sean Connery)

46.       “The Red Violin” (Samuel L. Jackson, Greta Scacchi, Eva Marie Breyer, Jason Flemying)

47.        “Star Wars: The Wrath of Khan” (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban)

48.       “Trading Places” (Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis)

49.       “Dead Calm” (Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane)

50.       “Beyond Borders” (Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen)

51.        “Misery” (James Caan, Kathy Bates)

52.       “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly) 

53.       “Age of Innocence” (Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfieffer)

54.       “Trainspotting” (Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller)

55.       “The Great Gatsby” (Robert Redford, Mia Farrow)

56.       “Running Scared”  (Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal)

57.       “Apocalypse Now” (Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen)

 the-untouchables the-red-violin
 

58.       “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow)

59.       “Jaws” (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss)

60.       “Doctor Zhivago” (Omar Sharif, Julie Christie)

61.       “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed)

62.       “Throw Momma From The Train” (Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal)

63.       “Vertigo” (Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak)

64.       “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” (Peter Weller, John Lithgow)

65.       “The Blues Brothers” (John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd)

66.       “Amadeus” (Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham)

67.       “Rear Window” (Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly)

68.       “The Graduate” (Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft)

69.       “Animal House” (John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce)

70.       “All The President’s Men” (Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman)

71.       “Witness for the Prosecution” (Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton)

72.       “Ordinary People” (Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore)

73.       “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” (Paul Newman, Robert Redford)

 dead-calmamadeus

 

 

74.       “The Elephant Man” (Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt)

75.       “Psycho” (Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh)

76.       “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher)

77.       “The Piano” (Holly Hunter, Karvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin)

78.       “The Way We Were” (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand)

79.       “Stand By Me” (River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell)

80.       “White Nights” (Gregory Hines, Mikhail Baryshnikov)

81.       “2001: A Space Odyssey (Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood)

82.       “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall)

83.       “M*A*S*H” (Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould)

84.       “Some Like It Hot” (Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon)

85.       “Dial M for Murder” (Ray Milland, Grace Kelly)

86.       “The World According to Garp” (Robin Williams, John Lithgow)

87.       “Saturday Night Fever” (John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney) 

88.       West Side Story” (Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer)

89.       “Body Heat” (William Hurt, Kathleen Turner)

90.       “The Dirty Dozen” (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine)

91.       “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (Bette Davis, Joan Crawford)

92.       “Oliver” (Ron Moody, Shanni Wallis)

93.       “Othello” (Orson Welles, Suzanne Cloutier)

94.       “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” (Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach)

95.       “On Golden Pond” (Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Katherine Hepburn)

96.       Casablanca” (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman)

97.       “Tess” (Nastassja Kinski, John Collins)

98.       “I Want to Live” (Susan Hayward, Theodore Bikel)

99.       “The King and I” (Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr)

100.   “The Ten Commandments” (Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner)

  

“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies—all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” ~ Steve Martin

body-heat

Well, I hope that you enjoyed my list. I tried to fit in some of the more evocative movie posters—”Platoon,” “Body Heat,” and my particular favorite, “The Red Violin”— as well as a few of the ones that I think are particularly well-designed, like “Mystic River” and “Untouchables.”

Not to mention Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful poster for “Vertigo,” which shows Jimmy Stewart clinging to the top border of the poster—great design for something that came out four decades ago. How about that?

So that’s all for now. As always, there will be more later. Peace.

“When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” ~ Unknown

adventure-dog1 

 Alfie’s Big Adventure

 “Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

Alfie’s has his day and leads me around by my nose . . .

dog-in-glassesWhen I finally managed to fall asleep yesterday after my insomnia bout during the night, it was early evening. I spend most of the afternoon with an ice pack on my head because of the migraine that was brought on from fatigue.  Not until the pain subsided was I actually able to fall asleep. Apparently, while I was sound asleep, Corey and Alexis were out searching the neighborhood for Alfie, that little bugger.

Let me rewind the story a bit.

In the forbidden forest that is the side of the yard outside my bedroom, the overgrowth had become scary. I told Corey that I wouldn’t mind the wild look so much if only I could have my pond back (love the sound of the frogs). Then Brett got the idea that he’d like to make a little zen garden. That area of the backyard would be perfect because it actually has a narrow picket fence that divides it from the rest of the yard.

Corey decided to take the weed whacker to the area and cut back a lot of the growth. Now that part is the good part of the enterprise. The bad part of the enterprise involves the smallest dog, Alfie, and the fence.

There is a very small hole in the main fence that encloses that part of the yard from the front yard. We plugged that whole a few years ago, and don’t really have to worry about it because the dogs don’t go into the forbidden forest because of the picket fence: that is, unless Corey forgets to close the fence to the forbidden forest, in which case Alfie, who yearns for adventure, find his way through the fence and out. He then romps and yells “I’m free,” before splitting like a hare (get it, split hair? audible groan? okay, back to the story).

Well, Corey did not notice at first that Alfie had escaped because he was mowing the back yard (the other part that is not the forbidden forest). When he finished mowing, Corey realized what he had not done and began calling Alfie’s name. Then he came into the house and asked if anyone had seen Alfie lately. Big no’s all around. Hence the hunt ensued.

“The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

dog-peanut-butter-jarThey finally gave up around 8:30 after making several routes through the park, where people had seen “the cute, little white dog,” and after Alexis rode through the neighborhood calling out her window: “Alfie. I have chocolate!”).

To explain: Alfie is a chocolate fiend. We know that chocolate is bad for dogs, and we don’t give him chocolate: the little bugger steals it. If for some reason we have forgotten to move the chocolate out of his reach, he steals it and eats it, sometimes wrapper included. I’ll never forget the time that I had gotten some Lindor Truffles, a personal favorite. Well I left some on the nightstand, which is easily within Alfie’s reach, even with his short little legs. Found the Truffle wrappers under the buffet in the dining room and Alfie with a smug look on his face.

Back to the adventure: I called the Norfolk shelter to report him missing and to see if anyone had brought him in or if he had been swooped up by Animal Control, which occasionally patrols the neighborhood looking for strays. An absolutely delightful woman told me that I would have to call back in the morning because they did not release any information unless it was during normal business hours.

“The greater love is a mother’s; then comes a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s.” ~ Polish Proverb

This morning Corey left for school early because they were going out on the water today, and I waited until 9 a.m. to call. The first woman I spoke with asked me to come in and fill out a lost pet report. I explained that I did not have transportation, and asked if she could take the information over the phone. She did but was not terribly happy to do so. About a minute later the phone rang, and a different woman from the shelter told me that she knew that a dog matching Alfie’s description was there, that he had been brought in last night. The fee to pick him up would be $15 for the bordering and $5 for a city license, which we never remember to get at the beginning of the year because or dogs never leave the yard (almost).

dancing-dogsThat fee was contingent upon having a valid rabies shot. Well, Corey is pretty good about keeping the dogs shots up to date, so I assumed that there would be no problem there. I called the vet that we go to and asked the woman if she could fax a copy of Alfie’s rabies’ record to the shelter. She was actually delightful and said that she would be happy to. She looked up Alfie’s record only to find that his shot expired n February. I was very confused because I thought that rabies shots lasted for several years, but apparently, when Alfie and Shakes were vaccinated last year, they were given one-year shots because we could not find records of their previous shots (new vet).

End result: I have to add to the fee for Alfie to get a rabies shot at the clinic next door to the shelter. Great . . .

Amidst all of this telephone calling, I had asked my mother if she could give me a ride to Corey’s school so that I could pick up the truck. After a delightful conversation with her in which I had to reiterate that we didn’t quite have the exorbitant amount of money needed to fix Izzie the Trooper yet, she agreed to take me to get the truck.

So, my mother picks me up and delivers me to the truck, and then she does something really extraordinary and unpredictable: she gives me a check to cover the fees to pick up Alfie from the shelter. Corey had done some heavy lifting for her, and she said that she wanted to give him something. I told her that Corey neither wanted nor expected to be paid when he helped her, but she said that she wanted to do it.  Snotty comment about earlier conversation with mother retracted.

In between all of this (oh yes, more complications), Brett had called and left a message that he needed to be picked up at 3 instead of 2 because he had to stay after school to work on a project. I knew that Corey would probably need to be picked up between 3 and 4 because that’s when the classes have been ending, but there was no way of knowing for sure since they were on the water in the lifeboats today. The shelter closed at 4:30. Timing was going to be tricky.

I rode to the bank at a few minutes after 2 p.m. Went to the gas station down the street since the little monitor that tells you how far you can go before you run out of gas was reading 0 miles. Put in just enough gas to leave me with enough money to pay Alfie’s bail, then decided to make a run for the shelter before picking up Brett. I hightailed it to the shelter which was in a different direction from the school, all the while keeping a lookout for police cars since I didn’t have time to be pulled over for the expired inspection sticker on the truck (different story).

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” ~ Dave Barry

blonde-brunette-and-redheadMade it to the shelter by 2:32. Made a positive identification of the suspect, who was looking very pitiful (in the meantime, tried very hard not to look at any of the other cages, made of mistake of looking into two or three, and immediately wanted to rescue more dogs who were barking and whining to get my attention). Filled out paperwork while one woman took Alfie next door to the clinic to get his rabies shot.

I had assured the woman that Alfie was small, 10 years old, and would be nice to her as he loves strangers (Alfie never goes psycho on strangers, only the family that he loves). The woman came back five minutes later out of breath—It seems that once Alfie was released from the cage and had his collar put on, he managed to break free and run away from the woman as fast as he could. Luckily, there wasn’t too far to run, but this woman was not a sprinter.

She asked me if I was sure that Alfie was 10. I assured her that he was indeed not a puppy but apologized that he was also very fast, a fact that I hadn’t taken into consideration when I was describing the culprit to her.

Alfie comes around the corner and is beyond happy. I fold all of the papers that return him to my custody, pick up Alfie, and head to the truck, whereupon Alfie immediately becomes the Energizer Bunny and wants to simultaneously jump on me, look out the window, help me drive, claw at my arm, and whine. He is not a good bye bye dog, so he doesn’t get in the vehicles very often. Time is now 2:45, and I am on my way to school to pick up Brett, which is approximately 15 minutes away if a take the interstate.

While I’m driving the speed limit, by the way, Alfie manages to crawl behind my neck at one point, wrapping the leash that I have wrapped around my hand, around my neck. I free myself with one hand while maintaining my steering power with the other hand. Alfie is not at all interested in listening to the voice of reason. Somewhere in my subconscious I have a feeling that there is going to be a train at the railroad tracks that I have to cross to get to Brett’s school if I take the usual exit off the interstate. I decide to chance it and arrive at the school at exactly 3 p.m.

“A house without either a cat or a dog is the house of a scoundrel.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

happy-dogAlfie immediately becomes Brett’s best friend, and I am finally allowed to drive. We turn down Little Creek Road and as I approach the train tracks, we hear the train coming. I cross the tracks, and within two seconds, the arms come down blocking the tracks. Brett and I just look at each other, and I tell him that I knew that the train was coming.

We make it home; everyone (meaning Eamonn, Tillie, and Shakes) is happy to see Alfie, except probably Shakes. My phone rings, and it’s Corey asking me to pick him up. It’s 3:57. Once more into the fray . . .

By the way, Alfie is comfortably asleep on Corey’s pillow at the moment, but the first thing that he did when I let him out in the backyard was to run to the fence of the forbidden (although not so forboding anymore) forest. Obviously he was not at all humbled by his adventure.

More later. Peace.

“Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience – unless they are still up.” ~ Ellen Goodman

woman-sleeping-by-sandor-liezen-mayer-1867 

 “Woman Sleeping” by Sándor Liezen-Mayer (1867)

“The worse thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s 5 a.m. Do you know where your good night’s sleep has gone?

sleeping-on-keyboardOkay, so it’s been one of those nights. I fell asleep relatively early for me, around 12:30, but then I woke up around 1:30 and haven’t been able to recapture the bliss of a good night’s sleep since. I finally decided at 5:30 to get up and make myself some tea and begin my day by reading some regular blogs. I also thought that if I went ahead and began today’s post that I might be able to lull myself to sleep with the rhythmic sound of the keyboard.

What I did achieve was waking up Corey around 5:45 who wanted to know what I was doing. Nothing. Go back to sleep. And he promptly did.

I hate nights like these. I dose for a few minutes, then toss and turn, but never manage to get into REM. I listened to the sound of the fan, the sound of the toads, the sound of the birds. I let the dogs out twice (they were very confused as they normally only go out once around 3 a.m.). The reality is that I haven’t actually slept through the night since Alexis was born, but I do know how to stumble out to the dining room to let the dogs out (Shakes initiates it) and then still go back to sleep.

Not this morning, though. There was no sleep for this woman. Of course, that didn’t keep Shakes from curling into my side and snoring loudly.

When I let the dogs out, it was lovely outside: cool air, the sounds of nearby birdsong drifting in. Of course, it’s supposed to get up to 91° today. With any luck, I’ll be able to sleep later this morning for little while at least.

I read a post on Maureen’s blog (White Orchid), and she’s getting snow. Of course, she’s in Australia, so her seasons are the opposite of our seasons. With 91° expected here, I think that I might actually enjoy some snow. It’s like I said, we just don’t get much of a spring, which is unfortunate because I love spring.

“For the economy I want workers and consumers to have control over their own economic lives. I want everyone to have fair conditions that fully utilize their talents and potentials.” ~ Michael Albert 

golden-books-tugboat
Classic Golden Book: Scuffy the Tugboat

That would be a nice change for him, for all of us, actually.  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (ourselves?). Corey is being cautious as ever. Can’t say that I blame him though.

“With the changing economy, no one has lifetime employment. But community college provide lifetime employability.”  ~ Barack Obama

After all of my anticipation yesterday, I was too tired to watch Law & Order Criminal Intent. Good thing that it’s recorded. I had never planned to watch it live. I prefer to watch the recorded show so that I can speed through all of the commercials. In particular, all of the car commercials.

It seems that every car company in existence is offering incredible deals, which really bites when you need a car but cannot possibly purchase one. I was just reading that used car prices are down by about 17 percent, 9 percent since January of this year (Consumer Price Index). New car prices have dropped about 3 percent. Great for consumers, bad for car companies.

In fact, the article was discussing those things that have gotten cheaper versus those items that have gotten more expensive since last year. The price drops are pretty predictable: homes, cars, electronics, airfares, alternative energy, toys, and clothing. Prices are on the rise for food, medical care, prescription drugs, college tuition, gasoline, garbage collection (huh?), and beer (too funny) (http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/7-things-getting-cheaper-7-that-are-not.aspx?Gt1=33009?slide-number=1).

So let me get this straight. The things that we really need (except for beer) are getting more expensive. The things that we might like to have but don’t need to survive are getting less expensive. Makes perfect sense.

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” ~ Pindar

Now I have to take exception with another article that I read on MSN Money: “Gift Cards Are Not Gifts,” in which  the contention is that giving someone a gift card is a faux pas because gift cards are not truly gifts . I believe that this statement can be both true and false.(http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/FindDealsOnline/GiftCardsAreNotGifts.aspx)

rack-of-gift-cardsFor example, someone who doesn’t have a clue about shopping and doesn’t particularly care about personalizing usually relies on gift cards. This can be seen as being lazy, or it can be viewed as better than nothing, particularly when you know that the card came from one of those all-purpose gift card racks at a convenience store.

“Hey look. One-stop shopping, and I can get my beer, too.”

Getting a gift card from a significant other: big no-no. Reeks of ‘I asked someone to pick this up for me because I just didn’t want to take the time to put any thought into a special present for you.’ Can you imagine being presented with a gift card to a jewelry store instead of the jewelry? Ooh. Not good. Kind of like getting a toaster on Mother’s Day.

And let’s face it. What is a five-year-old going to do with a gift card? Get her a talking book so that she can learn to appreciate books from an early age.

However, I honestly believe that there are several situations in which buying a gift card for someone is better than buying a gift. Big example: teenagers. Try buying a shirt for a teenager. Chances are very good that unless said teenager was with you during purchase, the t-shirt will never be worn. You will receive a half-hearted thanks, and the t-shirt will be consigned to the never going to wear pile.

Buying a gift card for a teenager is truly akin to giving him or her money, but the gift card is more responsible. Money will be frittered away in the late-night drive through at McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but a gift card to a store that you know they like and can use is a different story. And trust me, a gift card from a favorite store will get you a big smile and a sincere thank you. If nothing else, a gift card from Target is multi-purpose: consider make-up, cd’s, dvd’s, doo-dads for the car . . . you get the picture.

Another instance when a gift card would be a good idea is you have an elderly person for whom you are buying. Consider a gift card to a grocery store or a gift certificate to a cleaning service or a service that does yard work or washes windows. Elderly relatives do not want another vase, nor do they really need a box of chocolates because chances are they are on some kind of regimented diet. But I advise the gift card to the grocery store with a caveat: offer to drive them. Then you can unload the groceries, and the gift card becomes more personal.

Another person who will appreciate a gift card is a bibliophile like myself. Personally, I would much rather have a gift card to Barnes & Noble than just about anything else from people who do not know me well. With that little piece of plastic in my hand, I can go to the bargain book shelves and peruse for hours, or I can purchase that new title that I’ve been anticipating.

A particularly good gift card for someone who is starting out in the workforce is a gas gift card. Chances are good that this person has not factored in the cost of commuting yet and will be surprised when the gas gauge begins to drift towards E faster than usual.

A good gift card for a co-worker is one for a restaurant that you know he or she likes, or, as in my case, to Starbucks. One year a sales rep gave me a gift card to Starbucks, and she made me happy for a week. If she had given me a box of imported cookies or chocolate, I would have felt compelled to share them and to eat them.

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think, though, that that pretty much exhausts the justifiable situations for giving a gift card. In situations with immediate family members, I take a lot of time and care in selecting presents that are personalized. Sometimes I’ll buy a frame and insert one of my better photographs. My mother-in-law has received a few of these, and she really likes them.

Other good personalized presents include favorite things like gourmet hot chocolate mix for Eamonn, who can’t get enough of the stuff in the winter. Or socks, yes socks, for Brett, who seems to eat them because they disappear so fast. All of my children look forward to their package of new underwear and socks at Christmas. Go figure.

But really, it’s the presents that are made or bought with the heart that count the most. The first year that Corey and I were together, I made him a decorated journal. I used to do this for special occasions for people. I take a big blank journal, and then I paste in pictures that I have collected out of magazines, postcards, cards, quotes that I have typed, photographs—things that remind me of that person.

cigar-boxWhenever I come across an interesting-looking picture in a magazine, I’ll cut it out for future books, and I usually store my pictures in old cigar boxes, or if those are overflowing, I find larger decorated boxes, especially for the larger pictures. I have a lot of images from my collages stored in these boxes as well.

It’s actually a pretty labor intensive project, but it is so rewarding once I have finished it and given it to the person for whom I have made it.  I made one for my therapist when she had her first child. I made one for Alexis when she graduated from high school. I plan to make one each for Eamonn and Brett for their graduations. Presents such as these finished books cannot be found in any store, and, I hope, they reflect all of the love that I feel for that person. 

The bitter irony of this is that I began making my decorated books years before scrap booking was a verb in the lexicon of arts and crafts. My therapist asked me if I thought that there was money to be made in such an endeavor, and I told her that I didn’t really think so since the decorated journals were so personalized. Well, we all know how wrong I was about that. I could have been on the forefront of a new wave. Oh well. It’s really just as well. I probably couldn’t handle all of the fame.

On that note, more later. Peace.