Top 6 Most Shocking Documentaries

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Honorable Mentions: The Cove / Child of Rage / High on Crack Street

6. The Imposter (2012)

Listen to me carefully: the less you know about this documentary, the better. I went into it knowing the full story, and although it was fantastic, it was akin to watching Fight Club after having the ending spoiled. I would even go so far as to say that you should skip the trailer and watch The Imposter completely blind. Take my word for it, this is a fascinating and chilling documentary about a missing child with more twists and turns then you could ever expect. If multifaceted mysteries pique your interest, this is a must watch.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Here is the film’s official synopsis for people who want to know a little bit more:

The twisting, turning tale begins with an unsettling disappearance – that of Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year-old Texas boy who vanishes without a trace. Three and a half years later, staggering news arrives: the boy has been found, thousands of miles from home in Spain, saying he survived a mind-boggling ordeal of kidnap and torture by shadowy captors. His family is ecstatic to have him back no matter how strange the circumstances – but things become far stranger once he returns to Texas.

Though the family accepts him, suspicion surrounds the person who claims to be Nicholas. How could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so profoundly? Why does the family not seem to notice the glaring differences? And if this person who has arrived in Texas isn’t the Barclay’s missing child . . . who on earth is he? And what really happened to Nicholas?

5. The Woman Who Wasn’t There (2012)

This is another documentary that I wish I had gone into blind, although knowing the basic plot didn’t make the story any less powerful. The Woman Who Wasn’t There focuses on the 9/11 Survivors Network and how one survivor in particular wasn’t all that she seemed. The documentary serves as an interesting look into the human desire to belong and be accepted, and how one lie can spiderweb out of control. From a mystery standpoint and a sociological standpoint, The Woman Who Wasn’t There is overwhelmingly interesting. I couldn’t unglue my eyes from the screen while watching, and I definitely recommend it if you like unsettling, people-centric mysteries.

How to watch: Netflix

Here is the Netflix synopsis:

Filmmaker Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. discusses the truth about 9/11 “survivor” Tania Head, sharing exclusive footage from interviews shot with Head before her story crumbled to reveal a stunning circle of deception.

4. Jesus Camp (2006)

I was shown Jesus Camp in one of my LGBTQ college courses and will never forget the deafening silence that filled the room after the credits rolled. No one could believe what they had seen. Jesus Camp provides an incredibly disturbing look into the Kids On Fire School of Ministry, an Evangelical summer camp with some intense and highly controversial prosthelytizing methods. The infamous anti-Harry Potter speech comes from this film, and watching children as young as 3 thrash around and scream in gibberish, believing that they are being “touched by God,” only gets more and more disturbing as the film goes on. This documentary is heartbreaking. The children are given creationist “science” textbooks to learn from and are taught to pray for George W. Bush and his Christian efforts. The “preaching” done in Jesus Camp is as close a thing to brainwashing as I’ve ever seen, and it’s both upsetting and fascinating to watch.

How to watch: Youtube for $3. I had a hard time finding this documentary free-streaming, but it’s worth the price.

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes.

The youngest foot soldiers for the Lord are shown in their native environment in this documentary. Becky Fischer is a children’s pastor who runs “Kids on Fire,” a summer camp for evangelical Christian children in North Dakota. Fischer believes in the political and moral importance of a Christian presence in America, and uses her camp to reinforce the religious training most of her charges are already receiving at home (the majority of the campers are home-schooled by their parents). Using videogames, animated videos, and group activities to help put her message across, Fischer encourages the kids to pray for George W. Bush and his Supreme Court appointees while urging them to help “take back America for Christ.”

3. The Bridge (2006)

For one year, director Eric Steel and a team of filmmakers camped out every morning and filmed the Golden Gate Bridge. During those 365 days, they recorded 24 people jumping to their deaths. The Bridge hones in on the families of four of the deceased, and the only known jumping survivor. Footage of the 24 suicides are interspersed throughout the interviews and, needless to say, it is incredibly strange watching people die so casually. The documentary is unreal and eyeopening. It forces you to meditate on life, death, fear, courage, and how the human psyche processes these things. I felt very disturbed after watching The Bridge, but I highly recommend it.

How to watch: Youtube (Warning: the quality is low and there are subtitles. This is the best streaming version I’ve found, however)

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure. An engineering masterpiece. A triumph of human ingenuity and muscle over the elements. A symbol of San Francisco, the West, freedom – and something more, something almost spiritual but impossible to describe.
More people choose to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge than anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of deaths there is shocking but perhaps not altogether surprising. If one wants to commit suicide, that is, there is an eerie logic in selecting a means that is almost always fatal and a place that is magically, mysteriously beautiful.

2. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Dear Zachary is an absolutely devastating documentary about the court system’s failure to protect the innocent and how the determined efforts of a few good people can make all the difference. This is another documentary that I highly recommend watching blind. The trailer will give you a good idea of what the story’s about, but I wouldn’t recommend doing any more research prior to watching it. Just know that you will cry, you will be enraged, and you will never be able to forget the Bagby’s story.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

Shortly after his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, was slain by jealous ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne was shocked to learn that Turner was pregnant with Bagby’s unborn child. Hoping to create a film that would serve as both a memorial to Bagby and an introduction to the father the boy would never know, Kuenne quickly began production on a film celebrating the life of his late friend. Traveling across the entire continental United States, Kuenne made it his personal mission to interview everyone who had ever known his best friend so their memories would be captured on camera before they faded. Meanwhile, upon learning that Turner had fled to Newfoundland, Bagby’s devastated parents uprooted their entire lives and relocated to the easternmost providence of Canada in order to fight for the future of their newborn grandson, Zachary.

1. Earthlings (2005)

Known as “The Vegan Maker” in some circles, this harrowing documentary chronicles the five ways humankind exploits animals: food, fashion, pets, entertainment, and medical research. I have only been able to sit through the entirety of this documentary once and, although I highly recommend it, don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it again. This documentary takes an absolutely unflinching look at all types of animal cruelty. You will see animals getting their fur ripped off while they’re still alive and screaming. You will see rooms full of dogs gassed to death, lab monkeys being electrocuted for medical research, circus elephants stabbed and burned, and much, much more. Earthlings shows you everything, and though it’s incredibly difficult to watch, I can’t stress enough how important seeing it is. Earthlings is not hyperbole, it’s actual footage of how we treat animals behind closed doors, and it deserves to be acknowledged. This documentary has stood the test of time for me and remained the most shocking film I have ever watched. Definitely check it out, but be prepared to be sickened, infuriated, and wiser by the time the credits roll.

How to watch: Youtube

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs.

What are some documentaries you can’t stop thinking about?

My Top 3 WORST OKCupid Dates Of ALL TIME.

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Three years ago, before I met the stinky/handsome man I currently share my life with, I was a twenty-year-old artsy fartsy idiot new to the Brooklyn dating scene. And what better way was there to exact my newfound sexual freedom then to date the most horrifying string of men the internet had to offer? NO BETTER WAY, THAT’S WHAT. My dates were sometimes sad, oftentimes hilarious, and always horrifying. So, In honor of Valentine’s Day, I present to you My Top 3  WORST OkCupid dates of ALL TIME.

Yes, these things really happened to me. No, I wasn’t on candid camera.

Yes, I live a ridiculous life.  

3. The Time a Guy Brought His Ex-Girlfriend on Our Date

I met Jack on OkCupid during the winter of 2009. I had just moved to a small apartment in Brooklyn, changed my OKCupid location to my hip new borough, and was eager to hit the town with some pretty, young thing on my arm. Jack fit the bill. He was a 27 year old graphic designer living and working in Manhattan, and I wanted to make him mine. After a two week courting period, during which time I deduced that he wasn’t a Ted Bundy-type, we decided to go on a date. We agreed to meet at Rockefeller Plaza and watch the lighting of the tree.

When the night finally arrived, my heels were high, my hair was big, and my skirt was short. I was feeling hot as I climbed the subway stairs and walked straight into a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. A flash rain storm had hit Manhattan and I didn’t have an umbrella. Looking like a drowned rat, I mourned the loss of my bangin’ hair and smokey eye application and womped my way toward the throng of umbrellaed tourists and New Yorkers waiting before the unlit tree. 

As I approached the crowed, I heard a female voice shout in my direction, “Is that her?!” I flung my head around nervously and spied a small woman with curly black hair quickly moving towards me. “Jack! This is her!” She was yelling over her shoulder. My stomach twisted into a tight knot as the woman ran up to me. “Come on!” She barked, roughly grabbing my wrist and pulling me forward, “We’ve got a good spot over here! You can see the tree really well but if you don’t move now we’re going to lose it!” Feeling slightly concussed and completely confused, I allowed myself to be dragged to the outskirts of the crowd while weakly trying to introduce myself, “Umm…Hi, I’m Izzy. Are you Jack’s friend? Or…?” It was no use.

I saw Jack standing amongst the people, umbrella in hand, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other as the two of us approached. “Here you go!” the small woman squawked, letting go of my hand and shoving me towards my date, “I found her!” Jack mumbled, “Thanks Sue…” to the woman while I stared at her, bewildered. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Izzy!” Jack said, snapping my attention back to him, “Oh, um, hello…” I forced a smile and awkwardly shook his hand. Silence. We both laughed uncomfortably at the same time. More silence. Sue pointed at the tree. “Look! I think they’re going to light it soon!!” A million panicky questions ran through my head, “Who the fuck is this woman? She’s obviously Jack’s friend…but why would he bring a friend on our date? He didn’t tell me he was going to bring anyone! Maybe he thought I was a murderer and wanted protection …How do I ask him who she is while she’s standing RIGHT THERE?”

Suddenly, the woman turned to me and stuck her hand out, “I’m Sue, by the way.”

“Uhhh. Nice to meet you.”

The three of us stood side by side in silence while the tree lit up. After gazing at the twinkling christmas lights through the haze of rain for a while, Jack invited me out to a diner so we could “get better acquainted.”  Finally, some alone time, I thought– moments before Sue invited herself along. While we waited for our meals, Jack and Sue talked amicably while I twiddled my thumbs, staring longingly at the exit. The waitress brought or meals and I was a pancake and a half in when Sue blurted out, “Jack and I used to date– but now we’re just friends!” She explained, “Very good friends…” My eyes bored through my sunnyside up eggs while Jack picked up where Sue had left off. “She insisted on meeting you! She’s my wing-woman!” I didn’t know what to say, so I shoveled more breakfast foods into my mouth and prayed for death.

The rest of my evening consisted of Sue making fun of me for not knowing enough about Fraggle Rock for her liking, critiquing my dress and shoe combination, and asking me invasive questions like, “Are you still a virgin?”

Later that night, I received a Facebook friend request from her alongs with a private message which read, “I’ll be checking up on you!”

Needless to say, Jack and I never saw each other again. But worse dates were yet to come…

2. The Time a Guy Made Me Read Original Erotic Fiction in His Bedroom During a Storm 

My date with Stephen started out pretty well. He took me to Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., bought me a strawberry smoothie, and gave me a scenic tour of Park Slope. When it started raining and he invited me back to his apartment, I agreed. Stephen didn’t give off any highly detectible serial-killer vibes, so I was relatively sure I would exit his apartment unscathed. When the two of us entered his small walkup, I was in good spirits, until I noticed that the living room, kitchen, and second bedroom all looked abandoned. Only Stephen’s room had any furniture or working lights in it, and they only consisted of one hanging, overhead bulb, a mattress on the floor, and a rickety laptop sitting on top of a milk-crate. Stephen could tell that I was apprehensive about fully entering his modest apartment and quickly explained, “Oh! Sorry about this– all my roommates just moved out! I’m here by myself until I can recruit some new ones!”

At this point, any logical young woman would have hightailed it out of that dump, but I was an impressively dense girl with a penchant for danger, so my internal alarm system was all but muted. I followed Stephen into his sad, sparse bedroom and glanced around me with just a touch of worry. Stephen reclined on his mattress and asked for me to join him, but I said no, opting instead to perch on the floor in front of his laptop.

“Oh! You want to see something cool?!” He asked suddenly, jumping up off his bed and turning on his computer screen. “Look! I’m working on a digital art piece. I’m taking a bunch of different songs I love and illustrating them. I’m going to turn my drawings into an e-book!” Stephen clicked open a picture gallery with a mix of digital paintings and original writing. I flipped through the gallery and worked hard to neutralize my expression as I stared at some of the worst MS Paint art I had ever seen. “I painted this one while listening to ‘Brothers on a Hotel Bed’ by Death Cab…” He said, impressed with himself. “Wow.” I replied, at a loss for words. “Here–” Stephen clicked open a poorly done digital painting of a topless woman with text over it, “I wrote this story while listening to Daniel Bedingfield’s ‘If You’re Not the One.’ My e-book is going to include some original fiction, too. I would like…you to read it.”

“Umm, okay…” I replied, beginning to feel more uneasy. Stephen turned and grabbed an itunes remote control off his windowsill before laying back down on his mattress, his eyes never leaving me. I heard him clicking the remote and the opening notes of ‘If You’re Not the One’ crinkled through his busted laptop speakers.

Now, to anyone reading this, I want you to click on THIS LINK before continuing. It leads to a youtube video of ‘If You’re Not the One.’ I want you to listen to this song while you read the rest of this story. I want you to fully understand my horror.

I began reading Stephen’s story while my ears filled with Daniel Bedingfield’s simpering vocals. Two sentences in I realized it was erotic fiction. And when I say erotic, I mean filthy. Toys of every kind were involved, with multiple people getting in on the action. There I was in this stranger’s dilapidated bedroom, sitting on the floor, reading the intimate details of his fantasy bacchanalia, while he studied me like a vulture from his bed. I meekly glanced out the window and noted the storm raging outside. I had to think of a way out.

“What do you think…?” Stephen asked from behind me. My voices croaked in my throat, “Oh…it’s….a good story…”

“You don’t like it?!” He asked, upset, “It’s not finished yet!”

“It’s okay!” I stood up while hastily pulling my purse over my shoulder, “I  have to get going any way!”

“Look at the weather outside!” Stephen argued, “you can’t leave now!”

Eventually I convinced Stephen to let me go with the promise that I would call him to set up a second date. I walked through the rain and wind to the subway, feeling much safer out in the storm then inside his room. Stephen tried to contact me a few more times with no degree of success and then finally moved on. Now, a logical young woman would have learned her lesson at this point, but, as we’ve established, I’m anything but…

1. The Time My Date and I Got Summoned to Court for Trespassing 

Funny enough, out of all the dates on this list, my time spent with Alan was by far the most enjoyable. Alan was a nice person, and we got along well. His biggest problem was that he had lied about his appearance on his OkCupid profile, and he really liked me while I didn’t really like him, which is an awkward situation for anybody.

Alan and I met up for lunch in St. Mark’s and the first thing I noticed about him was that he was older and much larger than his OKCupid profile let on. As we sat down to eat our falafels, he admitted that the pictures on his OKC profile were outdated and apologized, saying that he was too embarrassed to post anything current. It was unfortunate, because while I appreciated his honesty, I knew from the moment I saw him that I wasn’t attracted to him and wouldn’t pursue a relationship with him. Still, we decided to hang out anyway.

Outside of Alan repeatedly insisting that he would win me over, our day together was nice. We decided to end it by taking a leisurely stroll through Central Park and entered the grounds around 11:30pm. Alan kept making me laugh and would follow it up by saying, “See? You think I’m funny! I’m going to get you to say yes to a second date!”

“No, no,” I would reply, “I don’t want to date you, I’m sorry.”

After a while, I got a little tired of him pushing me for a second date and decided to call it a night. Alan offered to walk me to the subway and we began to make our way out of the park when we realized that we were lost. After some searching, around 1:10am, we spotted an exit and began walking toward it.

Suddenly, a police car came barreling toward us, lights flashing and sirens on. Alan and I jumped twenty feet in the air and looked around wildly, trying to see who the police were chasing. The car skidded to a stop in front of us and a police officer got out and shined a flashlight in our faces,  yelling, “Stop walking! Stop walking and face the car! Face the hood of the car!” The two of us instinctively put our hands up in the air and turned to face the cop car. “What are you two doing out here?!” the cop asked, quickly moving the flashlight across both of our faces. “N-nothing!” I stuttered out, “We were on our way out and we got lost!”

“Have either of you been drinking?” The cop asked. “No sir!” we both replied in a panic. The officer didn’t seem to believe us and became agitated. “Then what are you two doing here after curfew? Central Park closes at 1am! Do you two know what time it is? Were you in the park causing trouble after hours?” “No, no, no!” We both insisted, “We were just lost!”

Suddenly, a second police car came speeding towards us and stopped beside the first one. The second officer leaned out of his window and yelled to the first, “What’s going on here!?” The first officer informed him that Alan and I were “trespassing,” and that he was going to summon us to court for breaking park curfew. Then, a THIRD police officer came rolling up in a golf-cart yelling, “Is everything okay over here!?”

I looked around in disbelief. Alan and I were surrounded by 3 police officers, two with lights flashing atop their cars, and all three pointing flashlights at us as if we were members of a drug cartel and not two lost people on a bad date. The first police officer summoned each of us over to where he was standing and issued us both a court summons. “You must appear in court at this date and this time,” He told us, “or else a warrant will be out for your arrest, do you understand?” Alan and I both nodded. Then the police escorted us ten steps to the exit of the park and told us to scram.

Alan and I stood side by side in complete silence, shellshocked by what had just happened. I watched Alan slowly lift the summons to his face to read the cop’s handwriting.

“I’m due to appear in court May 26th, at 12pm,” He said. I glanced down at my own summons and saw the same date written on mine.

“So am I.”

Alan was quiet for a long time before finally turning to me and saying, “Well, then I guess…we’re going on that second date after all.”

Top 10 Romantic Musical Moments in Animation

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Whether February 14th is your Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or Palentine’s Day, we here at Misanthropic Tendencies (meaning my beta fish and I) hope that it’s a day filled with love! Now let’s watch some cute, animated creatures sing about getting it on.

From Disney to Don Bluth, musical moments in animated films have provided us with some of the sweetest, saddest, and most memorable romances of all time. So grab a box of tissues, put some chocolate in your mouth, and enjoy my Top 10 Romantic Musical Moments in Animation!

10. Looking Through Your Eyes – Quest for Camelot

There is no denying that Quest for Camelot is a mess of a movie, but Looking Through Your Eyes, save for some questionable animation that doesn’t sync with the song at all, exists as the film’s bright spot. Garrett, though blind, is able to “see” Kayley through the transformative power of love. If that’s not flippin’ romantic then I don’t know what is. Plus, the song is gorgeous. Honestly, it’s too good for this movie (as is another song on the soundtrack)–  The two should have gotten a divorce. Wait, that’s not very romantic, is it? Looking Through Your Eyes, you can do better! Still, Garrett and Kayley’s romantic duet made my heart swell, and that’s really all that matters.

9. Ma Belle Evangeline – Princess and the Frog

I never thought a love song sung by a cajun firefly to a star would make me cry, but hey, Disney has caused me to experience weirder things in the past. Ray’s unfaltering love for Evangeline, a distant star that he believes to be a firefly, is the definition of bittersweet. I won’t ruin the ending of Princess and the Frog for you, but if you don’t sob like a baby when you see the culmination of Ray and Evangeline’s romance, then your heart is nothing but a withered husk, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Ma Belle Evangeline is a gorgeous song sung by a bug in love, and serves as a love song for protagonists Tiana and Naveen as well. The footage is beautiful, the music is beautiful, and their love lights up the sky.

8. Eve and WALL-E’s Sky Dance – WALL-E

I don’t remember most of WALL-E, but this scene always stayed with me. From the gentle instrumentation to the stunning visuals, Eve and WALL-E’s sky dance will steal your heart. As the two adorable robots zip through space, we see Eve showing WALL-E a world he’s never known, and you can tell he loves her for it. It’s amazing how much personality this one sequence can impress upon two robots that don’t even speak, but it does so effortlessly. Plus, every time Eve kisses WALL-E and sparks literally fly I can’t help but squeal a little. Cute robots in love. Is there anything better?

7. Beauty & the Beast – Beauty and the Beast

I don’t need to explain to you how stunningly romantic this song is. The only reason it’s not number 1 is because I don’t find Belle’s relationship with the Beast particularly romantic, but the animation in this scene, combined with Mrs. Potts sweet singing, overrides my distaste for their weird love (at least, until the song is over). When the lights dim at the end and the stars twinkle outside of the castle’s grand windows, my heart aches. Beauty & the Beast creates an almost tangible sense of safety and love. Now that’s a good musical moment.

6.  Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid

What’s more romantic than taking a twilight boat ride while surrounded by singing water fowl? Taking that boat ride with Prince Eric, that’s what. Kiss the Girl manages to be deeply romantic while maintaining a clear comedic tone, and that’s pretty darn impressive. The song is catchy, the lagoon is romantic, and even Scuttle’s squawking can’t ruin the mood.

5. Let Me Be Your Wings – Thumbalina

Let Me Be Your Wings has been one of my favorite romantic songs since I was a little girl. The melody is filled with swelling major notes while the vocals exude the excitement and reverie that comes with new love. I also adore the way Don Bluth animates human forms. The way Thumbelina lovingly caresses Prince Cornelius’ face as they fly together seems so authentic that you almost forget you’re watching two cartoon people smaller than your hand. I could watch and listen to Let Me Be Your Wings for hours and never get tired of it. This romantic moment is truly one of the greats.

4. I See the Light – Tangled

I’m a sucker for beautiful nighttime scenes in movies, so a cobalt sky filled with golden, glowing lanterns is just about the best thing for me. Add in a stunning love song sung by two characters I genuinely like and you’ve got a recipe for success. Rapunzel’s shift from being spellbound by the lanterns to being spellbound by Flynn gets me a little choked up every time. The animation is so good in this scene that you can actually see when Rapunzel and Flynn realize they love each other, making their relationship feel all the more real. Plus, Flynn and Rapunzel’s harmony as they sing together near the end of the song is just perfect.

3. Love Goes On – Robin Hood

Speaking of beautiful nighttime scenes in movies, no matter how gorgeous I See the Light is, it doesn’t hold a candle to Robin Hood’s Love Goes On. The idea of a forest hideaway filled with fireflies is absolutely my definition of a romantic destination. From the time I was little I’ve loved everything about this song and scene. I love the way neither character is singing and the music seems to be Maid Marion’s inner monologue. The lyric, “Life is brief, and when it’s gone, love goes on and on” exemplifies the feeling of being comfortably in love so well. Maid Marion and Robin Hood are kindred spirits, and they don’t need a flashy, fast-paced romance. They just want to be alone together in the quiet of the woods, as they’re love goes on and on.

2. A Whole New World – Aladdin

Oh, Aladdin, be still my beating heart! Not only is he the dreamiest Disney prince (in my humble opinion) but his carpet ride with Jasmine is one of the most romantic scenes in any animated movie. What can I say? I love everything about this scene from the song to the visuals. I love the way the orchestra swells as Aladdin and Jasmine fly into the sky, I love the way Aladdin bounces the apple off his elbow. There are just so many little details in this scene that make it so memorable and lovely. Jasmine and Aladdin are perfect for one another, and I don’t know anyone who isn’t charmed by the two of them cuddling on the carpet as it gently floats away across the water. Just tell Jasmine the truth, Prince Abooboo, you’ll be fine! Who could say no to that cute, cartoon underbite?

1. Carl & Ellie’s Montage – Up 

I’m sure you all saw this one coming. The number 1 spot goes to, of course, the entire opening montage of Up. Not only does the opening capture the entire duration of Carl and Ellie’s beautiful and heartbreaking romance, but it does so with gorgeous imagery and instrumentation alone. The montage, like love itself, will make your heart both sink and soar. Up shows us a real love, one that is affected by time, money, and age. Carl and Ellie’s montage makes us cry because it mirrors our own existence, and reaffirms our knowledge that, no matter what we do, love can and will be taken from us. But it’s the memory of that love, the fact that is existed at all, that is important. Carl and Ellie’s love wasn’t perfect, but it was theirs, and they adored each other until the very end, warts and all. That is true love.

Honorable Mention:

This Grill is Not a Home – Spongebob Squarepants

I figured you all might need a laugh after watching the opening scene from up. And really, is there any greater romance than Spongebob and Mr. Krabs’?

 So, what are your favorite cartoon romances of all time?

Horrifying Brooklyn Stories: The Girls Who lived in my Hallway

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I speculate that spending the duration of my college years crammed into a shoebox- sized apartment in Midwood, Brooklyn sullied my ability to accurately identify the strange and outrageous. Perhaps this is why arriving home to the sight of my 50-year-old roommate assembling a hand-made bunk bed in our hallway did not inspire a panicked Craigslist search for a new apartment on my part, but merely the smallest tickle of unease.

I had been living with Atakan and Sabina for the better part of two years. The three of us shared a 600 square foot, one bedroom apartment. Atakan, an older Turkish man, and Sabina, a 25-year-old Kazakhstani woman, lived together in the apartment’s original living room, which they partitioned down the middle with a hanging sheet. I lived in the apartment’s actual bedroom, which was roughly the size of a large walk-in closet. Because of this, the apartment was reduced to little more than a kitchenette, a narrow hallway, and the three of us coexisted on top of one another.

Though our living situation was far from ideal, we tried to make it work. Atakan spoke almost exclusively Turkish, but Sabina was fluent in both Turkish and English, and would often act as the liaison between us. So, while Atakan clumsily attempted to nail a wooden board to the vaguely bunk bed-shaped mess he was building, I wildly scanned the hall for Sabina, hoping she could make some sense out of it.

Unfortunately, I knocked into our shoe-rack before I could determine her whereabouts and Atakan caught my gaze. He smiled at me, proudly gesturing to his monstrous creation.

“See?” He exclaimed, “Two new roommates!”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head. I knew any form of protest would be lost on Atakan without Sabina to translate, so I took a deep breath and asked, “They’re going to sleep…in there? In the hallway?”

“Yes!” Atakan responded, pointing at the two levels of the bunk, “One bed for each!”

I was at a loss for words. Atakan looked so pleased, and I didn’t want to offend him, but he couldn’t seriously be suggesting that more people move in, could he? I glanced down at my own smooth, 20-year-old hands that had never seen a day of woodworking in their lives, and wondered how easily I could dismantle the bed in the dead of night before any tenant had the chance to take up residency in it. And who were these new tenants? And why?

I felt my cellphone buzz in my coat pocket and plucked it out to see Sabina’s face flash across my screen. I eagerly accepted the call and blurted out my current predicament in lieu of a hello.

Sabina sounded as exasperated as I felt. She quickly explained that two of Atakan’s cousins were visiting from Turkey and that Atakan, for some unfathomable reason, had promised to build them a handcrafted bunk bed so they could sleep comfortably during their stay.

“Sabina!” I squealed, “We can’t fit more people here!”

“I know, I know,” She responded in a huff, “Calm down, it’s only for three weeks, and I think he’s trying to be endearing. It’s annoying, but I can’t tell him to stop. Besides, they are going to be behind a shower curtain, you won’t even see them.”

“A shower curtain?!”

Sabina’s voice had begun cutting out as she descended the stairs to her subway. She chuckled, “I have to catch my train. Call me when he’s done destroying the apartment.”

She hung up. I stared at my phone dumbly wondering what she could have meant.

As if on cue, Atakan approached me, thrusting a neon green shower curtain into my arms and pointed a finger toward the ceiling in response to my bewildered expression.

I looked up and noticed for the first time the dozens of crudely hung wires stretching from one wall of the hallway to the other, crossing over one another to create a rectangular opening above the bed. My newly acquired sixth-sense for weirdness saw what was in store.

Atakan and I spent the next hour and a half fastening the shower curtain to the wires so that it draped around the bed like a canopy. This, he explained, was “for privacy.” I didn’t argue. By the end of our project, the half-finished bunk bed was successfully shielded from view by hideous green fabric. It stood against one of the walls in our hallway, directly across from my bedroom door, so that I would have to see Atakan’s cousins every day while coming and going.

“Perfect!” Atakan exclaimed.

I nodded glumly, excusing myself to our kitchen. As I poured myself a mug of chai tea, I began mentally preparing myself for every possible problem that the arrival of his cousins could bring. “How bad could this be?” I wondered.

Atakan’s cousins moved in three days later. I was surprised to see that they were younger than me, both teenage girls who couldn’t have been older than sixteen. Sabina informed me that they spoke no English and were cripplingly shy. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop them from starting a fire in our kitchen on their first night with us by accidentally microwaving a spoon. Their shyness also didn’t stop them from taking items from my room and hiding them, or using my bed as a drying rack for their wet clothes while I was in class, or using my shampoo without permission and then throwing it out when they didn’t like it. By the end of their three-week stay, I couldn’t believe I had once perceived the neon green bunk bed in our hallway as my biggest problem. It turns out that my real enemy was a much more obvious and familiar one; teenage girls.

Top 10 Catchiest Anime Theme Songs!

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It can’t be denied, anime has brought some of the catchiest jpop and jrock the forefront of the American experience by way of theme music– and we’re definitely better for it! These are My Top 10 Catchiest Anime Theme Songs! I’m sure yours will differ, so after you’ve read (and hopefully danced) to mine, leave me a comment with some of your favorites below!

10. Theme From Lupin III – Lupin III

Few songs deliver a sense of effortless swagger better than Theme from Lupin III. I never watched Lupin III much growing up, but its opening theme has been my ear-worm to bare since infancy. To this day, I sometimes catch myself straining out the song’s opening high notes when I think I’m alone…or when I’m surrounded by people. Whichever! Lupin the thiiird!

9.  Yakusoku wa Iranai – Vision of Escaflowne  

Vision of Escaflowne is another show I didn’t watch much until recently, but I have always loved its theme song. It was an easy favorite among my friends growing up, leading to a lot of rosy middle school nostalgia when I listen to it. Plus, it’s catchy as all get out! Listen to this one with a warm mug of tea and let it relax you, before it gets stuck in your head forever, of course.

8. Koko Dake no Hanashi – Princess Jellyfish

Honestly speaking, I’ve been out of dat anime game for the last five years. So when a friend recently introduced me to the Princess Jellyfish, I was skeptical. But the sweet opening notes of Koko Dake no Hanashi instantly assured me I was in good hands. The anime is wonderful, the opening theme is super duper, AND it’s instant streaming on Netflix. So if you like what you hear, check it out!

7. Everybody! Shake It, Buddy! – FAKE

FAKE was a manga that I was super into during middle school. Needless to say, when it was eventually adapted into an anime, sixteen-year-old me was all over it. Although the show never quite lived up to the manga, Everybody! Shake It, Buddy! was a bright spot during my angsty teenage years. I danced to this song. A lot. Like a possessed woman. And now you can too. You’re welcome!

6. What’s Up Guys? – Sorcerer Hunters

Sorcerer Hunters was the first manga I ever read back in 2002, and any incarnation of it will always hold a special place in my heart. It doesn’t hurt that the anime’s theme What’s Up Guys? is a kickass cacophony of crazy guitar and outrageous synth solos. I haven’t watched Sorcerer Hunters in over a decade, but I still find myself humming this song from time to time. Now that’s dangerously catchy.

5.  Let Me Be With You – Chobits

When my friend and I were twelve years old we went on a camp field trip to see a Broadway play. On our bus ride there, the two of us sang Let Me Be With You so incessantly that we were reprimanded by our counselors and begged to stop by our friends. Yet, despite all their anger, I heard more than a few of my fellow campers humming it to themselves throughout the day. Let Me Be With You is so catchy that it’s the devil’s music. No one is immune to its charms. Even if you hate it, you will be singing it. Chobits, what have you done?

4.  Rock the Dragon – Dragon Ball Z

Do I even need to explain why this song is catchy and awesome? It’s called Rock the Dragon for God’s sake. And boy does it rock that dragon.

3. Ride on Shooting Star – FLCL

Even though I was never a huge fan of FLCL, its theme song was always a favorite of mine. I love that Ride on Shooting Star manages to be both mellow and catchy, something many anime songs, including a few on this list, just can’t swing. FLCL’s primo theme totally stands on its own two feet, and is beloved by many with good reason. Ride on, The Pillows!

2. Tank! – Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is perfect. Tank! is perfect. Flawlessness all around. Just listen to it.

That is all.

1. Zankoku Na Tenshi No Te-Ze – Neon Genesis Evangelion

I had never seen Evangelion before a week ago, but I have known the theme song for as long as I can remember. Zankoku Na Tenshi No Te-Ze has existed in my life as a super high energy, fun, and incredibly catchy song since long before I even knew what anime was. Zankoku Na Tenshi No Te-Ze is right up there with Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy as a song that I absolutely have to dance to every time I hear it. I mean, it’s not hard to get me to dance, but dang. This song just isn’t playing around. Now, go forth and dance your little booty off, baby!

Honorable Mentions: 

HellsingCard Captor SakuraParanoia Agent

What anime theme songs can’t you get out of your head?

Oh, Honey! 3 Household Acne Treatments- How to Use Them and Why They Work!

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Like so many of us lucky ladies and gents, my hormonal teenage acne didn’t magically disappear on the eve of my twentieth birthday. As I delved into my early twenties, I came to realize that the Benzoyl peroxide facial cleansers of my youth no longer fixed my unbalanced skin. In the search to quell my angry spots, I found myself digging through my kitchen cabinets and experimenting with do-it-yourself acne remedies like a mad scientist. From sugar scrubs to aspirin masks, I have tried it all, and these are my three favorite, inexpensive, readily available, and effective household skin-savers!

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3. Honey

Let’s imagine a scenario: You come home from work or class one evening, wash your face and notice a new pimple forming under your skin. You reach for your benzoyl peroxide- based spot treatment when, oh no! You’re all out! Don’t worry, honey will do the trick!

Honey is a natural antibacterial, which makes it a great spot treatment. Acne is partially caused by bacteria in the skin. By applying honey, you help to cease the production of bacteria in the effected area. Honey is also an anti-inflammatory, meaning that it brings down swelling in the skin. This makes honey especially effective on angry, swollen cystic pimples!

What you will need:
1. Honey (that’s it!)

I personally used Raw Manuka Honey. I found that the less processed the honey was, the better its natural healing properties worked. For honey to be “raw” it must be unheated, unpasteurized and unprocessed. Some raw honey may even come with a piece of honeycomb left inside the jar! Don’t worry if you don’t have raw honey readily available, any honey in your kitchen cabinets will do, but if you like the results, you may want to upgrade!

How to:
The application of the honey is simple: thoroughly wash your hands with warm water, then take a pea-sized amount of honey on your finger, and lightly dab it onto the problem area of the face. I would recommend dabbing, not rubbing- we don’t want our fingers dragging over sensitive skin. Once the effected area is covered, simply go about your night. Some honey-users recommend putting a band aid over the honey and sleeping with it on. I, for one, have never left it on overnight, but if you want to experiment, go for it! If not, do as I do and simply wash the honey off with warm water after a few hours. That’s it!

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2. Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV works wonders as a natural facial toner. The acetic acid in ACV is a natural astringent and helps to reset the PH-level of your face’s protective acid-mantle. When we wash our face with various scrubs and cleaners, we run the risk of buffing away this natural oil layer, which serves to keep out infection. ACV helps to add back the acidity that our skin needs- a happy acid-mantle equals a well balanced face!

What you will need:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
2. Water
3. A spray bottle

How to:
When I made this toner at home, I used Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which is unfiltered, unheated and USDA certified organic! By doing this, I insured that all the natural benefits of the vinegar would be intact. I rinsed out an old facial toner spray bottle I had laying around (you can also pick one up from any pharmacy on the cheap!) and filled it three quarters of the way with ACV, then topped off the bottle with distilled water to dilute the acidity before applying it to my face. I chose distilled water because it has the majority of its impurities steamed out, and you want your toner as pure and clean as you can get it. And remember, everyone’s skin is different! I used quite a lot of ACV in my mixture, but that may be too intense for some faces! Experiment with your ratios; some faces may need more h2o!

Tip: If you have sensitive or dry skin, hold your mixture in a spray bottle about 6 inches away from your face and mist it over your skin- do not wipe or rub! Some ACV users recommend wiping an ACV-soaked cotton pad across the face, but I have found that letting the ACV sink in on it own works just as well, and you avoid rubbing the skin, which can cause irritation! After the toner has settled, follow up with your favorite moisturizer, and you’re done!

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1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Let’s get one thing straight, if Extra Virgin Olive Oil were a person, we would be married. No household item has done more for my face than EVO, and I am in love! I have been using olive oil on my face every night before bed for years now and I can’t describe how much smoother, more supple, moisturized, and balanced my skin looks.

If you’re thinking, “I can’t put oil on my face! No way!” have no fears! This amazing oil closely mirrors our skin’s natural sebum production, and our body readily accepts it! Seeing as sebum itself is a necessary oil human bodies naturally produce, olive oil won’t clog your pores, but instead, add back the much needed moisture that your skin is lacking. If your skin is dry, you can already understand why this addition of oils is necessary, but if your skin is naturally oily, don’t be afraid of giving EVO a try! The sebum-like oils in EVO will help reformat your face’s oil production, telling your skin to stop over-producing oils because it’s now being effectively hydrated. As someone who has suffered from both oily and dry skin, I can attest to the fact that nothing has returned my skin to its “normal” state like EVO.

What you will need:
A bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (none of that “light” olive oil stuff!)

How to:
I have always kept a glass bottle of EVO next to my bathroom sink. At night, I wet my face with warm water, pour a small amount of the oil into my palm (the amount varies), put my hands together to get the EVO evenly distributed, and then I set to work gently rubbing the oil all over my cheeks, chin, and forehead in small, circular strokes.

Tip: Olive Oil makes a great makeup remover! For this, I always remove my eye makeup first, rubbing a small amount of EVO onto my lids and eyelashes and then rinsing the makeup off my hands and face with warm water before continuing onto the rest of my face.

After my face is thoroughly covered with EVO, I turn the water from warm to hot and gently rinse my face, letting the heat melt away some of the excess oil. I then wash my face with my normal cleanser, and at the end of my routine, I either use more EVO as a moisturizer, or mix a bit with a brand moisturizer I may be using. And voilà, you’re done!

Remember, as with any skin regimen, these treatments wont work for everyone. Keep any allergies in mind before applying these items onto your face. Other than that, have fun pampering your skin with easily accessible (and delicious) treats! Good luck!