Mardi Gras: Fast Facts About Fat Tuesday

  • January 30, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday is celebrated this year on Tuesday February 12, 2013.  You don’t have to live in New Orleans to really get into the whole eating, drinking and being merry thing that has become a huge part of the Mardi Gras fun.   Don’t know much about Mardi Gras?  Here is our list of quick facts about the ultimate party known officially as Mardi Gras!
  1. Celebrating Mardi Gras is not a modern day invention.  The tradition of Mardi Gras (also called Fat Tuesday) actually began long ago; it stems from a medieval practice including some pretty heavy chowing down prior to the advent of lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  Traditionally, Mardi Gras is considered to be the last day for Catholics to really get into some heavy feasting before the fasting and giving up of certain foods during lent.
  2. Although a lot of the big hoopla occurs on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras celebrating often goes on for weeks prior to the actual event, in many cases the parades and parties begin in early January around the time of Epiphany.  Now that’s a party!
  3. Mardi Gras is most infamously associated with New Orleans, but the holiday is actually celebrated throughout the world.
  4. Mardi Gras is known as Pancake Day in England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand…and yes, they do eat pancakes as part of their celebrating!
  5. Where’s the baby?  The traditional wreath-shaped King’s Cake has a plastic baby baked right into it.  It is said that whoever gets the slice of cake holding the plastic baby will have good luck and fortune for the entire year!
  6. Parades!  A huge part of Mardi Gras traditional celebrating revolves around numerous parades.  Elaborate floats are part of these parades and those that ride on the floats will traditionally throw out beaded necklaces as well as various trinkets to parade onlookers.
  7. The Mardi Gras official colors are known to be purple, gold and green.  Green is said to symbolize faith, gold symbolizes power, and purple represents justice.  Although many different colors of beads are tossed out during Mardi Gras celebrating, obtaining the ones that represent the official colors of Mardi Gras is considered good luck--except the beads that have already fallen to the ground, which are considered to be bad luck.
  8. The tradition of throwing beads to parade onlookers actually began back in the 1900’s when a dressed up Santa Claus riding on a float began tossing out beaded necklaces to parade watchers. (And no, the spectators were not flashing Santa!) The tossing of beaded necklaces is one of the most popular of all Mardi Gras traditions to this day.
  9. Mardi Gras draws fun-seekers everywhere, particularly in New Orleans where Mardi Gras celebrating is done on a very grand scale.  During Mardi Gras, masked balls, parties, parades and lots of general partying are commonplace.
  10. The tradition of masked balls during Mardi Gras began in the 1700’s. People were so raucous, rowdy and debaucherous during the extreme revelry of Mardi Gras that they took to wearing masks in order to conceal their real identities to avoid any future ramifications from their night of utter craziness.  At one point in the 19th century there was so much drunk and disorderly conduct occurring during the time of Mardi Gras that authorities made the wearing of masks illegal, hoping to curtail some of the shenanigans.  People were not at all deterred by the new mask-less regulations and the extreme behavior continued anyway.
  Mardi Gras celebrations are a long time tradition that is enjoyed to this day by the masses.  Whether you are heading to New Orleans to get your own piece of the Mardi Gras action or are simply hosting a Mardi Gras celebration of your own close to home, you will not want to miss out on what appears to be the perfect excuse to have a really good time.  Don’t forget to check out our complete selection of Mardi Gras supplies, costumes and accessories to make your Mardi Gras inspired event nothing short of spectacular!

Groundhog Day: A Celebration of Rodent Meteorologists

  • January 28, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell
Groundhog Day 2013 is this coming Saturday - February 2nd. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  Groundhogs, aka woodchuck’s, aka whistle-pigs, are apparently chock full of many useful talents.  Today’s featured woodchuck story is all about the woodchuck (groundhog) that mastered weather prediction and gained infamy because of it.  Basically, this delightful animal tale all started with an overgrown rodent named Phil, but we’ll get to him in just a second. Back in the early days of our country, (when apparently people believed just about anything), some pretty crazy rumors started about the woodchuck.  Woodchucks, or groundhogs as they are more commonly known here in the US, were purported to be able to predict the weather, in particular, the length of winter.   This supposed weather-predicting skill was more likely just due to some real quirkiness noticed in natural groundhog behavior that somehow got a bit misconstrued; but like a lot of things in this crazy world of ours, groundhog weather-predicting has become an annual tradition that has sorta stuck with us.  Here’s how it all got started. Groundhogs hibernate in their burrows during the winter.  During this hibernation, their heartbeat slows down dramatically and their body temperature drops sharply.  Sometime in early February, male groundhogs do leave their burrows sometimes, but it has nothing to do with the weather. (Sorry!)  Typically at this time, male groundhogs are looking for a mate.  They will then take their new little groundhog lady friend back with them into the burrow (love nest?), not emerging again until sometime in March. At some point during the observation of groundhogs, German immigrants in Pennsylvania (who apparently had nothing better to do) noted that oft times the groundhog would pop out of his hole, apparently get frightened by his own shadow and then promptly head back down into his cozy little home.  Somehow, this particular scenario morphed into an odd form of weather forecasting, which (of course) assumed that the groundhog had felt that wintertime was still too fully in gear for him to even think about coming out to deal with it--thus he b-lined it right back into his burrow to continue sleeping.  Ahhhh. In 1887, a very confident newspaper editor from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (who also belonged to a group of groundhog hunters called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Hunters) declared that he had the only truly official weather-predicting groundhog.  The unique, weather forecasting groundhog’s name was known as “Punxsutawney Phil”.  Since this time there have been a long series of “Phil’s”--all with the supposed ability to predict the duration of winter.  This phenomenon is based simply on whether or not Phil sees his shadow or not upon emergence from his burrow on February the 2nd. In Punxsutawney, Groundhog Day tradition has evolved into quite a local sensation.  A 3-day celebration is held with lots of local revelry around Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney.  The locals (and many others who simply just tune in to hear what’s up with the weather) watch carefully to see what ol’ Phil has to say about the future of winter.  A groundhog that sees his shadow means six more weeks of winter.  No shadow seen means ol’ Phil is the official harbinger proclaiming the onset of an early spring.   Many copycat Groundhog Day celebrations are also noted around the country with various versions of rodent meteorologists dutifully involved.  Whether it’s about weather or just another excuse to party, it seems that Groundhog Day is here to stay.  Stay tuned.  “Punxsutawney Phil” is set to make this year’s weather prognosis on February 2nd.

Who is this Cupid Guy, Anyway?

  • January 22, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell
What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?  Valentine cards are obviously way on the top of the list.  Hearts, flowers and candy are also very traditional tokens that we associate with Valentine’s Day as well.  Valentines Day, a holiday that celebrates all things love and romance, is steeped in lots of symbols.  Cupid, however--the arrow bearing, diapered baby, might be the oldest and most common of the love symbols we associate with Valentines Day. But who is this Cupid guy anyway?  What has he got to do with the day of love? Cupid:  What’s Up With the Diaper?   Not to burst anyone’s bubble here, but Cupid actually didn’t start out wearing a diaper at all.  In Ancient Roman mythology, Cupid, the son of Venus, was usually depicted completely in the buff.  (That’s naked, folks.) He also wasn’t always a baby.  Cupid grew up into quite a strapping (and apparently quite smokin’ hot) youth who indeed was also the god of desire and erotic love.  He did indeed carry a quiver of potent arrows, however.  The gold-tipped arrows were purported to make someone fall madly and quickly in love, while the lead-tipped ones were used to create wanton passion and lust. Jealous Mother:  Roman Mythology gets a little dicey here, but as the story goes, Venus, Cupid’s mom was very jealous of a mortal human woman named Psyche.  Psyche was extremely beautiful, perhaps even more so than Venus, which made Venus a bit crazy.  Venus sent Cupid (armed with his powerful arrows) to shoot Psyche.  The point was to make Psyche fall immediately in love with someone nearby that was a truly vile or hideous human--now that would keep her busy and get her off of Venus’ mind, right? Whoops…I Hate it When That Happens:  When Cupid lays eyes on Psyche, he slips up and accidentally scratches himself with his own potent arrow.  He immediately falls madly in love with mere mortal Psyche and although he knows trouble could be a-brewin’, he marries her anyway.  Even though he and Psyche are now in love, Cupid insists that Psyche never look at him.  That’s the rules.  Now, Cupid is aware that he is indeed quite delicious to gaze upon, but Psyche just isn’t allowed to know what he looks like-ever.  Cupid only visits Psyche when it is dark so that she cannot see him.  Cupid is apparently quite a magical lover, so Psyche is very happy.  During the daytime, Cupid has supplied Psyche with all she needs to live a very happy and quite a cushy life. Jealousy Strikes Again:  Psyche’s sisters become very jealous of the very pleasant lifestyle their beautiful sister has suddenly attained with her mysterious new husband.  They stir up all sorts of trouble by convincing Psyche that Cupid must be actually quite hideous looking or he wouldn’t keep his appearance a well-guarded secret.  Psyche allows herself to become convinced that she must see what her husband looks like. Shed A Little Light On It:  One night, during one of Cupid’s nocturnal visits, Psyche sneaks a candle into the room.  While Cupid is sleeping, Psyche lights the candle in order to be able to get a good look at her husband.  Psyche is so enamored with the great beauty of her husband that she stares completely aghast at his stunning form.  As she does so, she accidentally drips some of the candle wax on Cupid, waking him.  Enraged by her disobedience, Cupid leaves Psyche, who now is left totally in despair. Love Conquers All:  Don’t worry--this torrid tale still somehow manages to end up happily.  Psyche strikes a deal with Venus who sends her on a mission to prove herself, which even includes a trek into the underworld.  In her possession, Psyche has a box, which Venus has instructed her to never open.  Overcome by curiosity, Psyche opens the box, which immediately puts her into a deep, deep slumber.  Cupid happens upon his sleeping bride and upon seeing her in this state, he just can’t be angry with her any longer.  Cupid released Psyche from her sleep, and then takes her to see Venus, convincing his mother that Psyche is now worthy of godly immortality. The gods give Psyche some powerful nectar made of ambrosia, making her a goddess in her own right.  Now folks…that’s what we will call a happy ending! Feeling the Love?  You may want to try creating your own version of Cupid with one of our many perfect-for-Valentine’s Day costumes.  Check out our how-to video on how to create a really sweet and sexy Valentine’s Day look. This look is going to knock his socks off!   (Plus it works a lot better than a half-naked arrow-wielding baby, we promise!) Happy Valentine’s Day from your friends at Halloween Express!

Martin Luther King: 5 Interesting Facts You Should Know

  • January 21, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Martin Luther King is the only private U.S. citizen that wasn’t ever an elected official to have a national holiday designated in his name.  Today we remember a man who believed in the equality of all men and who passionately dedicated his life to the peaceful resolution of civil right’s issues.  Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be remembered for his strong commitment to non-violent activism and the increased awareness of America’s struggle for civil rights.  Here are 5 fun facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. that you may not know, but probably should!

  1. Don’t Move Over Rosa!  Martin Luther King was the public voice for the Montgomery bus boycott.  In December of 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, which ultimately led to her arrest.  Martin Luther King, Jr., although relatively unknown at this time, was asked to organize the 385-day bus boycott.  The situation of course became quite tense, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s house was eventually bombed at one point.  In the end, however, the U.S. District Court ruled to end racial segregation.
  2. Gandhi Is My Hero!  Many infamous folks inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.; including, Jesus, Abe Lincoln, Benjamin Mays, Hosea Williams and Henry David Thoreau.  One of Dr. King’s greatest sources of inspiration, however, came from the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi.  Dr. King was so inspired by the non-violent activist teachings of Gandhi that he later went to India himself to further his understanding.
  3. I Have a Dream!  This infamous speech may have been a classic case of winging it and was largely improvised, being truly inspired in the moment.  According to sources, Martin Luther King Jr. was so busy during this time that even 12 hours prior to his appointed speech time, he still wasn’t sure what he was going to say.  This infamous and galvanizing speech not only electrified many that day but has gone on to be heard and recognized by many in subsequent generations as his most inspiring. 
  4. That’s Just One Opinion.  Apparently while in seminary school, Martin Luther King Jr. got a “C” from one of his professors in public speaking.  (We’re not sure what it must have taken to get an “A”)  Dr. King’s father was a preacher and had held extremely high hopes for his son’s public speaking abilities.  Fortunately, by Dr. King’s senior year, he was not only the school valedictorian, but he also had all “A’s”. 
  5. So Wise, So Young.  When Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, he was the youngest person to ever have received it, at the time being just 35 years old.  During his acceptance speech for the prize, Martin Luther King uttered this infamous quote.  “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

Buzz Lightyear Inspires NASA

  • January 18, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell
Hey costume fans, here’s a costume riddle for you:  What’s dressed in a white spacesuit that has flaming neon green trim and is topped off with a ginormous domed helmet?  Buzz Lightyear, right?  Eh…not so fast.  It does seem, however, that our ol’ Toy Story buddy Buzz has inspired someone over at NASA.  The newly engineered Z-1 spacesuit looks shockingly like Buzz Lightyear!  The Z-1 spacesuit may be ready for “Infinity and Beyond” as well with all sorts of techy features that are designed to make an astronaut’s space life much easier--such as a rear entry port designed for docking with space stations and space shuttles.  (Plus, we’re assuming when you gotta go, you gotta go…but that part wasn’t actually discussed.)  The Z-1 spacesuit is still in its prototype phase, but obviously we are giving the whole look a big thumbs up!

Zombies Revisited: Warm Bodies

  • January 16, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

I will admit it. I have become completely addicted to “The Walking Dead.”  It seems that I am not alone when it comes to being fascinated with the whole Zombie apocalypse thing.  I am not normally a fan of over-the-top gore, so it’s kinda weird for me to really like a show that can at times be pretty darn violent.  What is it about these shuffling, hideous, gory, brains hungry as well as brain-dead beings that many of us are really digging these days?  On the surface, it’s hard to understand why we are so drawn to something that really is so insanely disgusting, but there is no doubt.  The Zombie appears to be America’s Next Top Monster.  When it comes to bloodthirsty behemoths, the top spot for a long time has been held emphatically by the charming, sexy, and at times, sensitive Vampire.  (Thank you, Twilight!) Now it seems the suave bloodsucker’s popularity has been taken over by a growling, unyieldingly and ravenous beast. It was probably only a matter of time before somebody tried to give the Zombie some sensitivity training.  With the latest Zombie movie, “Warm Bodies” soon to be released, the Zombie seems to have gotten a bit of an extreme makeover.  The Zombies we’ve seen in the movies and on television in shows like “The Walking Dead” are brilliantly heinous.  The makeup folks on these shows have done their due diligence, creating for viewers Zombies that are almost painful to look at.  We are simply horrified and completely grossed out at the same time--but somehow we love it just the same.   “Warm Bodies” does have plenty of disgusting walking corpses stumbling their way around, along with the ultra far-gone Zombies (Bony’s) that have relinquished to their plight of ultimate Zombie-ism.  But there is a big twist to this Zombie tale. So what did “Warm Bodies” introduce to the whole Zombie picture?  Well, in true “Twilight” fashion, “Warm Bodies” has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the Zombie persona by introducing some old-fashioned young love into the picture.  By adding a little “boy-meets-girl” chemistry along with a heavy dosing of warm fuzzy’s, “R”, the “Warm Bodies” protagonist, begins to change from his Zombie self.  The Zombies around him begin to change as well.  What’s love got to do with it?  Well, in “Warm Bodies” you might be able to pinpoint it as a catalyst for change.  Are the Zombies becoming human again?  After “R” becomes involved with the girlfriend of one of his former victims, this is exactly what begins to happen.  Instead of eating her, “R” is suddenly very conflicted and tries to connect with her instead.  The effect that this connection has on him becomes contagious, creating a big reversal as to what we typically associate with old school Zombies.  What’s great about the concept?  These Zombies don’t have to have their heads bashed in order to save the human race.  Maybe there’s enough humanity left in them to save them from themselves.  Stay tuned!  “Warm Bodies” opens in theatres on February 1st and you will not want to miss it.

And the Nominee's Are . . .

  • January 14, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

It’s always fun when they announce the Academy Award nominees.  First of all, there’s a sense of validation that comes when you realize that “they” like what we like.  Secondly, there is a renewed interest in films that the Academy acknowledges by nominating them for Best Picture and some of the other award categories as well.  It’s human nature to not want to miss out on all the movie hoopla; so when a film gets a lot of Oscar nominations, it certainly gets our attention and we definitely want to see what all the fuss is about!

And this year’s nominees for Best Picture are:

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

 The very eclectic listing of nine Best Picture nominees includes a little something for everyone; clearly if you haven’t seen some of the nominated films, now’s your chance and you are very likely to find something here that appeals to you.  Lincoln, rumored to be the frontrunner and clear favorite to eventually win the Best Picture Category, also came out with the most nominations, for a total of twelve Academy Award nominations.  “The Life of Pi”, directed by Ang Lee, came out with the second most nominations with eleven, including a Best Picture nomination.  Clearly, with a lot of nomination buzz going on, January is the perfect time to hit the theatres and see some of these films while they are still lighting up the big screen. 

A Few Fun Facts about This Year’s Nominees:

  • At eighty-five years of age, Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour” is now the oldest actress to be nominated in the category of Best Actress.  On the flip side, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is the youngest to be nominated in this category.
  • Nine out of ten of all the award nominees have won an Academy Award before.  These include:  Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Denzel Washington (Flight), Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert de Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained), and Helen Hunt (The Sessions).  The only newbie amongst the nominees is Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). 
  • Breaking nomination records this year are Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy who are sharing the record now for having the most Best Picture nominations for individual producers; each of them now have eight. 

 

Don’t be left out in the cold come Oscar night.  Now is your chance to see the films that everyone is talking about and pick your favorites.  The Oscars are set to be broadcast live on February 24th.


January Heat Wave at The Movies

  • January 09, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

It’s highly probable that over the holidays you found yourself in a movie theatre near you.  With so many heavy hitting movie blockbusters saved for the holiday season, moviegoers were not disappointed; in fact, some of the year’s best movies came out during the holiday season.  January can often hold a movie lovers trifecta and it goes something like this.  1. Many of the season’s best and most exciting films are still in theatres for your viewing pleasure! 2. Some pretty fantastic looking feature films are about to find their way into a theatre near you.  3. Perhaps the best part of waiting until January to hit the movies is that the crowds you may have found during the Christmas season are likely to be somewhat reduced.  Even still, with winter in full throttle and so many fabulous films to be seen, don’t take a chance on missing your favorites while they are still available on the big screen!  Take a look at some of our favorite January picks:

The Hobbit:  If you haven’t seen this film yet, run, don’t walk to your local movie house and see it!  This movie is, in a word--epic!  The characters are rich and interesting and the story of the Hobbit really reaches out, grabs you and pulls you in.   The battle between good vs. evil is something that anyone can relate to as well as watching ordinary folks do extraordinary deeds.

The Life of Pi:  After surviving a harrowing shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel forms a surprising friendship with a 450-lb. Bengal Tiger as he fights to sustain himself while adrift at sea. 

Lincoln: If knowing that Steven Spielberg directed this film doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the amazing performances of both Daniel Day Lewis (as Lincoln) and Sally Field (as Mary Todd Lincoln) will.  We all know the history lessons we learned in school, but seeing the behind the scenes struggles of this great president and the Civil War in action will leave you breathless. 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  Okay folks, we are after all, a Halloween costume website and so we must give a shameless pitch for a classic horror film that keeps on re-inventing itself.  Seeing this kind of murderous rampage in 3-D might be a little much for the squeamish, but it hasn’t stopped droves of moviegoers from doing just that.  This film grossed over 23 million this past weekend--lots of horror fans out there, apparently!

The Last Stand: (Release date Jan. 18) After a largely dismissed book release, Arnold Schwarzenegger is “baaaack” as promised as many of us would prefer to see him--as the good old bad ass tough guy we all know and love.  The Last Stand promises to deliver what many of us like to see most out of Arnold movies.  Action.  Explosions.  Fast Cars.  And we think there are likely to be a few “old guy” jokes in there, too. 

Wreck It Ralph:  For all you kids, big and small out there in the land of moviegoers, “Wreck It Ralph” is the latest Disney animated adventure and is perfectly suited for the entire family.  The story is centered on a video game character that has been labeled as a villainous bad guy, but he would like to take advantage of an opportunity to change his reputation and become a video game hero; thus finding his perfectly blissful video game character brand of happiness.

On your mark…get set…go…to the movies!  Beat this winter’s chill by hitting a hot, hot, hot movie at a theatre near you!


7 Ways to Survive the Post Holiday Blues

  • January 08, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Well, we’ve survived the (almost) end of the world (thank you, Mayan’s for being wrong) and a near swan dive off the fiscal cliff.  Here we are in the first week of a brand new year.  The holidays, and all the fun that went with them, are tucked neatly away until next year.  In spite of coming through so much and having enjoyed a fabulous holiday season, sometimes January brings with it a bad case of the blues. 

Scientists have actually calculated the most depressing day of the year and it’s rapidly approaching.  January 21 has been designated as this year’s “Blue Monday”.  Blue Monday got its sad and melancholy reputation from a convenient juxtaposition of bad and annoying things that all come together mid-January to create a bit of a sadness perfect storm.  Those pesky post-holiday bills have arrived.  New Year’s resolutions have already failed and perhaps been abandoned. Look outside and what you see is the coldest, most miserable weather of the year.  Motivation to do anything is at an all time low.  Combine all these factors with the least favorite day of the week, and there you have it…Blue Monday. 

Blue Monday is just around the corner.  What, if anything, can you do to prevent falling into a bad case of the mid-winter blues?  Here’s our list of quick and easy mid winter pick me ups that are sure to get you smiling again. 

  • Look ahead.  Today may not be the greatest but there are many fun things to look forward to.  Start making plans for Valentine’s Day or a long President’s Day weekend now.  Having something to look forward to can be a great pick me up.
  • Get Outside!  Even if the weather is cold and nasty, getting some fresh air can be invigorating to your mind and body.  Put on a hat and gloves if it’s cold.  I have a silly hat with furry and ridiculous earflaps that I can’t possibly wear without smiling a little; try it out if you don’t believe me.
  • Give Your Brain Some Space.  Over-thinking your woes never did much to help your situation.  Take a purposeful time out.  Breathe in deeply and slowly.  Try to think happy thoughts if possible to put some space between yourself and what’s bugging you.
  • Sweat it Out:  Exercise is a great way to purge your mid-winter blues.  The endorphins created during exercise will automatically elevate your mood.  You might feel like an extended TV-a-thon, but an hour of good sweat will do far more for your mood.
  • Hydrate.  All the forced air heating can dry you out more than you realize, plus all that holiday drinking didn’t help, either.  Focus for a couple days on drinking lots of water--it’s amazing how well this works!
  • Dance!  (And boy to we have costumes for that!) Practice your moves.  Lady Gaga, Madonna, Elvis, Michael Jackson--crank up your favorite tunes and go at it.  Bring the kids in on the action and don’t forget to take a few videos.  Which brings us to the next mood-elevator…
  • Sing!  In the shower, in the car, wherever.  Belt it out like you mean business.  Silly or uplifting songs are perfect for snapping out of a funk.  Our favorites?  “Don’t Stop Believing”, (Journey) and “Chicken Fried” (Zac Brown Band).
  • Phone a Friend:  Sometimes having a lively chat and catching up with an old buddy is a great way to perk yourself up. 

January doesn’t have to spell disaster for your mood.  Try these hints to lift your spirits and spit right in the face of Blue Monday! 


Life Lessons Learned From "The Hobbit"

  • January 02, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Many, years ago, I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit.”  There are a handful of books in my lifetime that got read pretty much in one sitting, with extreme difficulty even putting the book down. “The Hobbit” was certainly one of them.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to see the movie and it did not disappoint! I’m already looking forward to the second part of the trilogy, set to come out late next year.  After seeing the movie, I got to thinking about the original story known as “The Hobbit”. What it is about this tale that is so appealing to the masses?  Perhaps in some ways each of us can relate to something about this very diminutive and basically ordinary guy.

“The Hobbit” is a fantastical tale with a very simple premise.  Can good overcome evil?  Can even the most simple, non-descript people amongst us rise to the occasion when necessary and tap into formerly unknown personal resources of courage and fortitude?  Bilbo Baggins thought he just wanted a quiet, ordinary life.  He obviously had no idea what was in store for him when he embarked on his unexpected journey; certainly one impulsive decision in Bilbo’s life would set him on a course that would show him how strong, smart and resilient he really was.  An ordinary Hobbit?  Not so fast.

Overcoming Adversity:  Bilbo is hit with major problems from start to finish where he is severely challenged.  There is little better in the human (or Hobbit) experience than encountering a major stumbling block and then finding a successful way to overcome it and come out shining on the other end.  Take for example, the hissing, slimy creature, Gollum who Bilbo discovers when he mistakenly stumbles right into Gollum’s lair.  Bilbo uses his brains and wit when he engages with Gollum in a game of riddles in order to be shown the way out of the mountains.  Bilbo confidently wins the riddle contest and not only leaves with his life still intact, but he also has an increase in the belief he has in himself. 

Brains vs. Brawn:  There is more than one-way to skin a cat, or so they say.  Bilbo understands his own personal limitations from the beginning, and when he is hit with circumstances that typically may require more physical types of heroism, Bilbo over and over uses his wits to get himself out of trouble.  When talking with the dragon Smaug, Bilbo discovers a weakness within the dragon that is a sure-fire way to kill him.  Using his diplomatic skills, Bilbo has uncovered information that is of critical importance.  You are going to have to wait for Pt. II of the Hobbit saga to see this part of the story unfold.

Just Get Over It:  Sometimes we all have to realize that we have to let some stuff go. Later in the Hobbit tale, Thorin Oakenshield becomes obsessed with getting his hands on the Arkenstone, which after Smaug’s demise, Bilbo has secretly pocketed.  Now using the stone to help strike a bargain, Bilbo offers the Arkenstone over to Bard and the Elvenking to hopefully avoid a war.  During the Battle of Five Armies, Thorin is unfortunately killed, but before he dies he has a revelatory moment and he and Bilbo make their final peace.  Thorin’s dying words profoundly state, “If more of us valued food and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.  But, sad or merry, I must leave now.  Farewell.” Thorin was buried with the Arkenstone he had so desired, resting upon his chest.

Come Together:  Sometimes in life it becomes necessary for a wide variety of people from a community to come together, unifying in numbers in the name of a good cause.  During “The Hobbit”, many good guys band together to fight off the Orcs, Wargs and their atrocious allies, the Goblins.  There is power in numbers and when many group together to fight for the right, even the most unlikely partnerships can be surprisingly fruitful.

So there you go--life lessons as taught by “The Hobbit”.  This action packed wonder of a movie is showing right now at a theatre near you.  You won’t want to miss it!