The Riveting Plot of Every Hallmark Movie

Hi everybody! Remember me? Yes, I know I’ve posted very infrequently over the past two years, but guess what? I’m back baby doll! (The first person that can tell me what TV show that last line came from,  I will happily send you either a paperback or Kindle copy of one of my books. If you can name the episode I’ll send you two! Ahem, Mrs. Phil you are not eligible for this promotion).

I’m planning on being back at least once a week. I couldn’t let one of the oldest blogs in the world just fade away. Although I am back, this post is a holiday classic that deserves to see the light of day at this time of year. But wait, there’s more! I’ve updated it a little. In the first rendition of this post I made a sexist comment implying that only women enjoy the Hallmark Christmas movies. I have since been enlightened by some of the previous comments on this post and the fact that Hallmark stepped up their game this year and added an LGBTQ friendly holiday romantic movie. Kudos to Hallmark for their move towards inclusion.

Yes, it’s that time of year. “Christmas?” you say. No, Christmas is just a secondary annoyance. To all the people born with at least one romantic bone in their body and a high tolerance for mediocre acting, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, otherwise known as Hallmark Christmas movie time! Or as Lacey Chabert, Dean Cain and Candace Cameron Bure call it, “The only time we make any money.”

Being married to one of these Hallmark movie loving people, I’ve inadvertently seen several Hallmark Christmas movies and I couldn’t help but notice that each unique Hallmark Christmas movie has the exact same plot as every other Hallmark movie. To save you from having to watch the actual movies, here’s how it goes:

Guy or gal who left home several years ago and is very successful at some high falutin’ job in a big city somewhere comes back to their Smalltown, USA hometown for Thanksgiving or a funeral. Oh no! Their family’s business is failing! What? They need to stay longer than they planned. Maybe until Christmas! I can’t believe it. What are the chances of that?!!?

Successful and attractive returning guy or gal runs into the sister or brother of a friend they knew in high school. He or she “was just a kid back then” but now they’re “all grown up” and they’ve really blossomed into a hunk or a hottie. At first they may not like each other but everyone else can see the obvious chemistry. Despite the fact that they annoy each other, they have to work together to save the business, ranch, town  or whatever. There’s always something that needs saving.

Of course it will all inevitably lead to a playful snowball fight between the two in the town square. And they both realize they like each other and they kiss.

Guess what everyone, that’s the plot of every episode of The Gilmore Girls too. You’re welcome. I’ve just saved you the trouble of watching every single Hallmark movie this year. But you know what? I know you’re going to watch them. It’s as inevitable as that moment when the returning hometown hero says that “this is where I’ve wanted to be all along” as they hug their new love and gaze at the Christmas tree.  Cue Christmas music and fade out to credits.

Have a great Sunday and thanks for sharing this post anywhere on social media! ~Phil

Happy Diwali! or दीपावली की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं !

In the “States” and many other countries we may be excited about Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and other holidays, but we’re overlooking a big holiday that just occurred yesterday. Because of the continued popularity of my post Real Sexting Conversations to Read in Hindi? I thought I would branch out my humorous holiday coverage to include the Hindu holiday of Diwali, which started yesterday. Before we go any further, Hindi is the language that is spoken by most, or is it moist, people in India? Let’s face it, everyone in India is probably moist all the time. It’s more overpopulated than Miami during Spring break and the average winter temp in India is 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 C). Ok, Hindi is a language and Hindu is a religion. You can speak Hindi without being Hindu and vice-versa, but most people who speak Hindi happen to be Hindu.

I figured that because so many Hindi people also visit my site for dating advice, like I gave in my post How Ron Burgundy Will Save Hindi Sex , that I would continue to court their growing influence in the blogosphere by writing about one of their biggest holidays. For the rest of you, here is some info to help you understand why this is such a big holiday: Diwali, or Deepavali, as it is sometimes called, (look, I know there are a lot of people in India, but why can’t you all agree on one name for the holiday? The rest of us have Christmas period. We don’t call it anything else.) is the Festival of Lights. It’s a celebration of light over darkness, or good over evil. Good over evil? Awesome. Who isn’t down with that, right? It’s like having a Batman holiday. It’s also an official holiday not just in India, but in eleven other countries. Let’s face it, if you’re not down with Diwali then you ain’t jolly. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a saying in India.

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Why would you need “eye health safety tips for Diwali”? Because it’s like our Fourth of July/Independence Day in the States. On Diwali, all the Hindus get lit! They don’t get lit in the sense of drinking a lot, or do they? I imagine that the Feni was flowing freely in Mumbai yesterday as they celebrated the Festival of Lights by lighting candles and fireworks until the wee hours of the morning. Something like one tenth of the Earth’s population is in India, nobody has more than 6 inches of personal space, and on one day each year they all start fires. I don’t see how that could possibly go wrong! The fire departments in India earn their keep on Diwali. There are literally tons of fire accidents on Diwali, so read this article to help you stay safe and alive during Diwali. No one wants to leave Diwali in a funeral trolley. That’s not a saying in India yet, but mark my Hindi words, this time next year some marketing dude in India is going to make this the tag line for a public service announcement. Here it is in Hindi: कोई भी एक अंतिम संस्कार ट्राली में दीवाली छोड़ना चाहता है. And tomorrow, someone in India who reads this will say it to their friends moments before one of them blows off a finger or two with firecrackers.

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I love the angry baby memes. I wonder if one day in 20 years we’ll see a picture of the angry baby then and now. Anyway, for those of you who are not Hindu, I hope you learned a little more about another culture today and for all my Hindi speaking readers, if you drink too much don’t get into a brawly on Diwali. Yeah, I could do this all day. दीपावली की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं ! <–That may or may not be me and my Hindi readers making fun of the rest of you. For all you Netflix watchers, go look up The Office episode about Diwali. Very funny. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Good Books and a Good Cause: Help #Hurricane Laura Survivors

I’m happy to welcome back friend of The Phil Factor, author, tv & radio personality and zombie expert Marie Lanza! Marie is one of the few human beings in the world that I’ve allowed to write a guest post here at The Phil Factor.

I was planning to write a stellar review of Marie’s story in the anthology Under Her Black Wings: 2020 Women of Horror Anthology which features horror stories by all female authors. It’s almost Halloween, so it’s time to get in the mood with a great read. As I said, I was preparing to write a review of Under Her Black Wings and Marie’s story, The Faceless Woman, when I came across a post of hers on Instagram (where you can find her as @marie_lanza). I’ll let Marie take it away in her own words:

My hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana has been devastated by #HurricaneLaura. The community needs help as they begin the long journey to rebuild their lives. There is no running water or electricity. Many have lost everything and so many are desperate for supplies.

For the month of September, 100% of book proceeds will go directly to individuals and families in need. We’ll be sending it in forms of gift cards, cash, clothing, food–whatever we can.

I accept Venmo and Paypal! Please DM me for details.

Donations of $10-$15 : You’ll receive paperback copy of an anthology – 25 Gates of Hell or Under Her Black Wings. Lots of greats authors in these books!

Donations of $15-$25 : You’ll receive the first 3 books of my Fractured series.

Or, if you just want to give something, please let me know. Alternatively, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana was recommended by friends as a great group to give donations as well. I know there’s so much going on in this world, but this beautiful city needs all the help they can get.

Good books and a good cause. I can’t think of a better way to spend my money. For links and/or to DM Marie, you can find her at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarieLanzaBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marie_lanza

Instagram: @marie_lanza

You can also find her on Amazon

It’s Labor Day, a classic American holiday. Do something American by helping out other Americans!

Have a great day! ~Phil

 

Stressful Week? Here’s Some Happy News!

If you’re dealing with stress fatigue from well, everything in 2020, this post will remind you that there is still good in this world.

The Jigsaw Man

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon… ~Harry Chapin

The Jigsaw Man is my father. I call him that because he has Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I don’t actually call him that, but if I did he wouldn’t remember it five minutes later.

Why I think of him as The Jigsaw Man is because now his brain seems to be filled with puzzle pieces of his life, and none of them fit together any longer. It’s as if he has a hodge podge of pieces from different puzzles and he has no idea how to put them together again.

Every summer my family went camping with my dads parents and his brothers and sisters families. Every summer I watched my big brother and older cousins water-ski. I was dying to water-ski. I wanted to get out on the water and do all the cool tricks that the big kids were doing. 

When I was eight years old, my uncle took the boat out, letting out the tow line behind it. My dad sat back in the water holding the handle at the end of that rope with the tips of his skis poking out of the water. Then I climbed up on my dad’s shoulders and wrapped my arms around his neck. The motor roared to life and seconds later I was riding my dads shoulders at thirty miles an hour. That’s one of my puzzle pieces. I wonder if it’s one of his.

Oh, crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got ~
The Living Years, Mike and the Mechanics

On Friday I had my dad placed in a memory care facility. He needs constant supervision, otherwise he might wander off. I know it’s hard to think of putting your parent in a locked facility, but it’s a very nice place and I’m comfortable with it. For years he had been cared for by his long time girlfriend who was at her wits end. Despite her emotional exhaustion, she had a harder time with the decision than my siblings and I. 

One thing that will forever make me think of my dad is the TV show Two and a Half Men. No, my dad didn’t love the show. In fact, I’d be surprised if he knew about it at all. In the picture above, see the higher one of the two framed posters on the wall? It’s a poster of Earl Hines, a legendary American jazz musician. I wish that I could have found a better picture of it. That poster was on the wall on that set every year that Charlie Sheen was on the show. When Ashton Kutcher showed up they redecorated. (How many of you even knew that in the last couple seasons they replaced Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher?)  You may not know of Earl Hines, but in jazz circles he’s still famous enough that when my son went to college a few years ago they were still teaching Earl Hines songs to the jazz ensemble. So, why does a famous jazz musician remind me of my dad?

On a snowy December night in Syracuse, N.Y. in the early to mid 1970’s my dad was on his way home from working late and he saw a car broken down by the side of the road. It was Earl Hines and his manager. My dad gave them a ride to their hotel. For a few years after that they remained in touch and whenever Earl Hines was playing in Syracuse, he’d meet my dad for dinner and my mom and dad might go to the show if they could get a babysitter. That is one of my puzzle pieces. I wonder if it’s one of his.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
And, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee ~
Janis Joplin

Me and Bobby McGee. He used to walk around the house playing his guitar and singing it. That is one of my puzzle pieces. I wonder if it’s one of his.

They say you grow up to be your parents. If someday I become a Jigsaw Man, I wonder what my puzzle pieces will be. 

Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Time to Lie, on #LisaBurtonRadio

A few years ago I did an interview with Craig Boyack who has really creative interview format. If you want to learn a little bit more about the first book in the Landon Bridges story, give it a read.

6 Questions with Brady Bunch/TMNT/Sharknado star Robbie Rist!

In honor of today’s last episode of Doc McStuffins, I give you Robbie Rist, the voice of Stuffy from my interview with him five years ago.

That’s Right, I’m a Baller

Do you know where the grass is always greener? I do, and I’m going to tell you.

Today could have been a day like any other, but it wasn’t. I woke up, fell out of bed and dragged a comb across my head. Then I slathered some SPF 100 on my face and I looked in the mirror and said to myself, this is it. This is the day. The day that I mow my new lawn for the first time. This is the fifth house that I’ve lived in since I began The Phil Factor fifteen years ago and I anticipate that this will be the last one. Then again, I thought the same thing a year ago, so we’ll see. I like to stay one step ahead of the law.

It’s not that I love mowing the lawn. It’s just a chore like any other, but I do like my lawn to look good. What made today important was that it was to be the first mowing of the year for my new lawn. It’s spring in the northeastern United States and lawns don’t get mowed much earlier than this because of the weather. It literally snowed here yesterday, but today the sun was shining. Because of the coronavirus I may not be able to get a trim on the hair on my head, (what do you think? Should I go man-bun?) but I’ll be damned if my lawn is going to look shaggy.

At 8:30 I pulled on a pair of badass plaid cargo shorts and my favorite baseball cap. “Phil, isn’t 8:30 a little early to cut your lawn. Won’t it disturb the neighbors who might be sleeping in? you may be thinking to yourself. Yes, 8:30 is a little early to start mowing your lawn, but that’s the point. It is, as my kids would say, “a baller move.”  I want everyone in the neighborhood to look out their front windows thinking, who the feck is out cutting their lawn today? And at fecking 8:30?  Apparently when I’m a baller I imagine that my neighbors are Irish and they like to swear

As I stood in my garage poised to push my lawn mower and my baller-ness out into this strange new frontier of suburbia, I paused, took a deep breath and imagined the first few guitar riffs of the Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane, then I reached out and hit the garage door opener as the vocals start,

It’s early morning, the sun comes out
Last night was shaking and pretty loud
My cat is purring, it scratches my skin
So what is wrong with another sin?

Then in my mind I skip the next verse and go straight to…

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

And with that chorus ringing in my mind I pushed my lawnmower out in to the sun and fired it up. Because I’m a baller.

Me cutting my lawn today was the equivalent to a fighter throwing the first punch. All the other suburbanites had been waiting. Of course nobody wants to cut their lawn, and if everyone else’s lawn looks a little overgrown, it’s OK if yours does too. So being new to the neighborhood, I threw down the gauntlet, because I’m a baller.  I imagined that all over the neighborhood wives were suddenly saying to their husbands, “Honey, the new guy is cutting his lawn. Ours is kind of long. Why don’t you go out and cut ours today?”  I don’t care that I pissed off every other guy in the neighborhood and ruined their Saturday. You know why? Because I’m a baller. I’m now the mother fecking alpha dog of this cul-de-sac. That’s right mo fo’s, because, say it with me, I’m a baller.

 

Two things: first, thank you to the Scorpions for my use of their song, which is also my ringtone, and secondly, when some lawn mower company steals my ‘leaving the garage with the mower scene set to Rock You Like a Hurricane‘ idea, prepare to be sued for copyright infringement. You know why? Because I’m a baller, and the grass is always greener in my yard. You know what would be a total baller move by you right now? Clicking the Facebook or Twitter share button below. That would be baller A F.

Have a great Easter and a great Passover or just have a great day, because you’re a baller!~Phil

#PHIL2020

#baller

Happy Blogiversary To Me

Yes, on this very day, at this exact time, on April 3rd in 2005, I put my writing legs up in the stirrups, leaned back and gave birth to The Phil Factor. Yes, the image I just described was meant to make you cringe a little.  And yes, I know that over the past year I haven’t blogged more than once a month. I’ve had a lot of real life going on in my life and I’ve discovered that for me writing is an emotional journey and if I’m distracted I’m not a good writer. I’m starting to feel a bit more settled as all the changes in my life have become the norm for me. So, as I traditionally do, I will copy and paste my very first blog post so that if you missed it, you can enjoy it as if you’re watching a re-run from an old show.

What Up Dawg?

Is it just me or is everyone sick of Randy Jackson’s act on American Idol? How many times can we hear, “What up dawg?” Or his other favorite, “It was a little pitchy in spots,” or “It was just ahh ight for me.” The dude is like one of those action figures where you squeeze him and he has three pre-programmed phrases he rotates through. Nearly as bad is Paula Abdul. Has anyone else noticed that this season she seems drunk every week? She loves everyone this season and seems to find an excuse to physically grab Simon Cowell every week. Considering her recent charge of leaving the scene of an accident after she clipped another car on the freeway, how ironic is it that her big 1988 hit song, Straight Up, included the line “caught in a hit and run”?

That’s how I introduced myself to the blogging world and I was rewarded with ZERO comments or likes. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to my longtime blogging friend Jennifer of Not Quite Perfect  ,and several other blogs, who has been blogging longer than me and is still at it. Visit her site and give her a like or comment.

I do have two blog posts planned for the next week, so maybe like Spring I am feeling rejuvenated. And of course I’m sure you want to hear my thoughts on the Coronavirus tragedy. Lastly, I want to say a sincere thank you to each and everyone of you that has visited, liked and commented on my blog for the last fifteen years. You have made my life immeasurably better. Have a great Friday!

~Phil

 

Muh-Muh-Muh My Corona (virus)!

What’s more surprising, the fact that I awoke from my hibernation to write a blog post, or that I’m going to make fun of a disease that could be the end of the human race? I say neither.

In fact, ancient soothsayer Nostradamus predicted both the disease and my blog writing resurrection when he said, “During the reign of the orange one a disease shall cull the human herd but will be cessaverunt by the oldest of bloggers. Well, he’s not the oldest, but he’s been doing it the longest. It’s Phil. I’m talking about Phil alright. What the f*ck is blogging? I have no idea. I just hear things in my head.” Shortly thereafter Nostradamus had his medication adjusted and he stopped mentioning me.

As a kid growing up, (yes I know that the ‘growing up’ part of this sentence is debatable) my way to cope with things that scared me, like scary movies and the fact that in the 1970’s there were no laws requiring parents to actually do any parenting, was to make fun of them until they go away. Buckle up buttercup, I think I’ve got a lot to say about this “Coronavirus” nonsense.

Let’s face it, if the Coronavirus can fell the mighty Tom Hanks, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well let me tell you, there’s a lot of hope and me and Tom Hanks will guide you through it. They say laughter is the best medicine, so I’m going to try to inoculate all of you. Take that any way you want ; ). Look at me using the old school emoji. How funny is that?  It’s funny, but not funny enough to kill the coronavirus, so I guess me and Tom better get to work.

One of my favorite stories that’s come out of the Coronavirus mania is the story of a bright, entrepreneurial teen in the United Kingdom, who was suspended from school for the day after selling “squirts” of hand sanitizer to his friends at Dixons Unity Academy in Leeds. Suspend him? Are you kidding? He should have been awarded an MBA degree and made the president of some company!

He only made about $11.00 American and when asked what he was going to do with his profits he said he bought a bag of Doritos – and plans to buy a kebab with the rest of his cash. OK, so maybe he’s not that bright.

That picture of empty store shelves is what the toilet paper/paper towel aisle looks like in every store in America. That’s crazy. Even if you get quarantined, how much pooping do you plan to do? I don’t recall any mention of explosive diarrhea being one of the symptoms of the Coronavirus and yet everyone is stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels as if they’re made of solid gold. And my assumption is that the paper towels are gone because people are worried about what they will use when they run out of toilet paper! Let’s say, hypothetically, that I become ill with the Coronavirus and my daily poop volume were to double. I’m sure I wouldn’t need forty rolls of toilet paper on hand. Again, I ask you, how much pooping do these people think they’re going to be doing?!!?

And for cripes sake, wouldn’t it be nice to watch five minutes of news without hearing the word “coronavirus”?!!? I’m tempted to knock off a liquor store naked while wearing a Trump mask just to give the local news something else to talk about.

That’s it for me today. Thanks again for stopping by #ThePhilFactor and I truly hope you and your family are well. Have a great weekend, unless you’re spending it all pooping. ~Phil

#PHIL2020