Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I'm a cheap person. I steal napkins from McDonalds. When I go grocery shopping, I compare the unit price of items to make sure I'm maximizing my spending dollars (I don't remember how much that bag of cookies cost, but I know each individual one is worth 8.2 cents).
But there are some things I think are worth paying for. Like car washes or going to hair salons without the words "super" or "cuts" in the title. And now, I add to that list, Venus razors. [Or other brand equivalents. I'm not picky.]
Because that extra blade apparently makes ALL the difference between heaven and hell for my legs.
So this discovery came at the cost of my frugalness. I was doing that unit price compare thing at the grocery store the other day and Daisy razors happened to be like 10 cents cheaper. Usually I'd buy Venus anyway, but I always thought razors are overpriced in general (they make the handles so excessively nice for a product you throw away after a week), so I thought, why the hell not try a Daisy? Can't be that much worse, right?!
God! I never realized how spoiled I was with the Venus! The pillowy head would glide over my skin and the triple blade actions would cut smooth and close, leaving me stubble-free for a day or two. Never any nicks.
But this cheap, pink contraption? Inferior in every way and feeling dull half-way through the first usage. It scrapes along unwillingly, leaving your legs feeling itchy and not nearly as smooth after, even with generous amounts of shaving cream. The lack of contouring really makes shaving your knees a nightmare, too. Crazy!
Easier and Better? I don't think so, Daisy.
Like I said, some things, you just can't skimp on.
And since it's Wednesday:
And stop procrastinating so you can get your stuff done. Or rent "The Cutting Edge" (1992). I promise, 100 minutes well spent if you're looking for a light, summer distraction.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
“The Summer Day”
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
Remember The Fast and the Furious way back when? And then they had that sequel which sucked even more. And Vin Disel was too big of a star for it? And then they had the third movie, set in Tokyo with no one famous in it, to spice things up?
Well, number four's coming out next summer, cleverly named Fast and Furious. With the original cast in all it's glory. Hooray. I guess Vin Disel wasn't too busy making The Pacifier 2 or anything.
School of Rock might have a sequel too.
In the words of brilliantly bizarre David Lynch: "In a way, there's no original ideas -- it's just the ideas that you caught."
Doesn't mean you can't keep trying to catch interesting ideas, Hollywood.
But then again, I am insanely excited for The Dark Knight, so what can I say.
Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
Monday, June 23, 2008
So today I watched Aladdin (1992) on the Toon Disney channel. Classic.
I notice that the moral of kids movies are usually the same: Be Yourself. It's the lesson at the end of the last 3 children's movies I've seen-- Penelope, Camp Rock (shut up, you want to watch it too), and Aladdin. Love yourself even though you: have a pig's nose/ are the cook's daughter (?!?)/ are a street rat. It seems that after all these years, no matter what the movies say, we still have a big self-acceptance problem.
You know, people always tell you to just be yourself, but what they really mean is to be your best self. See, Penelope's only problem is her nose (and ears). They make her slightly less cute. But despite her life imprisonment, she is surprisingly well-adjusted and cheerful-- she's a cool, talented, rich girl. So liking herself the way she is... well, we all like her too, already. I won't even touch the ridiculousness of Camp Rock. And Aladdin is a diamond in the rough. That kid goes into a cave full of gold and isn't tempted by any of it? That takes character. Aladdin's so awesome, he can win the heart of a princess. So why the hell wouldn't he want to be himself?
The problem these characters have are always exaggerated or too remote to real problems people face when they're labeled as weird or different.
It's not a bad message to put in movies, but the reason why no one listens to it, and consequently, why it keeps popping up in movies, is because once you exit the theater/living room, you're bombarded once again by reminders of how inadequate you really are. Out of the twelve issues 17 magazine puts out a year, 8 of them have a "Make-over tips!" headline on the cover. The other 4 tell you how to look hot, fun, pretty, and fashionable. You have a wonderful personality, as long as you're happy and nice and talented and come in a pretty package.
It's probably part of human nature; we're always striving to be better, faster, stronger, younger, richer.... And really, it's not always such a bad thing. I think you should always strive to be a better person (while of course being okay with yourself when you slip up along the way).
Kids, I'll tell you what I think the moral of a story should be. Be yourself. Love yourself. Because you are a cool and unique person. And just don't let it bother you if the "unique" side of you outweighs your "cool" portion. Get used to it kids, people aren't always nice as adults either.
If it helps, take Whit's words of wisdom (ooo, alliteration!):
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
That song... so catchy, so true.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
AFI's ten top ten:
(and my random thoughts)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937
- Pinocchio, 1940
- Bambi, 1942
- The Lion King, 1994
- Fantasia, 1940
- Toy Story, 1995
- Beauty and the Beast, 1991
- Shrek, 2001
- Cinderella, 1950
- Finding Nemo, 2003
I like this list. I mostly agree with it (though maybe not in that order-- but that's due to my personal taste rather than objective judging), with perhaps the exception of Shrek and/or Pinocchio. With Shrek, well, it depends what the guidelines are, I suppose. It is a good movie, unique, clever. But all the pop-culture references make it age poorly, and, well, you know how I feel about sequels. Shrek has two, and it's really a concept that only works well once. As for Pinocchio, well, okay, not one of my faves, but I suppose it had Jiminy Cricket. My favorite of the list would have to be Beauty and the Beast.
- The Wizard of Oz, 1939
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001
- It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
- King Kong, 1933
- Miracle on 34th Street, 1947
- Field of Dreams, 1989
- Harvey, 1950
- Groundhog Day, 1993
- The Thief of Bagdad, 1924
- Big, 1988
- The Godfather, 1972
- Goodfellas, 1990
- The Godfather Part II, 1974
- White Heat, 1949
- Bonnie and Clyde, 1967
- Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, 1932
- Pulp Fiction, 1994
- The Public Enemy, 1931
- Little Caesar, 1930
- Scarface, 1983
- 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
- Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, 1977
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982
- A Clockwork Orange, 1971
- The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951
- Blade Runner, 1982
- Alien, 1979
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
- Back to the Future, 1985
- The Searchers, 1956
- High Noon, 1952
- Shane, 1953
- Unforgiven, 1992
- Red River, 1948
- The Wild Bunch, 1969
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
- McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 1971
- Stagecoach, 1939
- Cat Ballou, 1965
- Raging Bull, 1980
- Rocky, 1976
- The Pride of the Yankees, 1942
- Hoosiers, 1986
- Bull Durham, 1988
- The Hustler, 1961
- Caddyshack, 1980
- Breaking Away, 1979
- National Velvet, 1944
- Jerry Maguire, 1996
- Vertigo, 1958
- Chinatown, 1974
- Rear Window, 1954
- Laura, 1944
- The Third Man, 1949
- The Maltese Falcon, 1941
- North By Northwest, 1959
- Blue Velvet, 1986
- Dial M for Murder, 1954
- The Usual Suspects, 1995
- City Lights, 1931
- Annie Hall, 1977
- It Happened One Night, 1934
- Roman Holiday, 1953
- The Philadelphia Story, 1940
- When Harry Met Sally…, 1989
- Adam’s Rib, 1949
- Moonstruck, 1987
- Harold and Maude, 1971
- Sleepless in Seattle, 1993
- To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
- 12 Angry Men, 1957
- Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979
- The Verdict, 1982
- A Few Good Men, 1992
- Witness for the Prosecution, 1957
- Anatomy of a Murder, 1959
- In Cold Blood, 1967
- A Cry in the Dark, 1988
- Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961
- Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
- Ben-Hur, 1959
- Schindler’s List, 1993
- Gone With the Wind, 1939
- Spartacus, 1960
- Titanic, 1997
- All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930
- Saving Private Ryan, 1998
- Reds, 1981
- The Ten Commandments, 1956
Friday, June 13, 2008
So the poster for the next Terminator came out a couple days ago. Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins. Yikes. Who thought back in 1984 that The Terminator would be the one movie franchise that just refused to die? (AND have its own TV show.) Now, I love Christian Bale and all, but I’m afraid he’s just turning into a masochistic action-movie seeker. Apparently he signed on to do three of these. THREE. The script for this movie must be mind-blowing. …But somehow that seems highly unlikely. Mr. Bale, please don’t make me embarrassed to say I’m a fan (yea, I’m looking at you, Ben Affleck). You know, Tom Cruise refused to do a Top Gun 2 and 3 because he didn’t want t play the same part over and over (yet, isn’t he essentially the same person in every movie anyway?), and I never thought I’d say this but, I wish more actors would sometimes take his lead.
Other inevitable sequels: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (when has a good movie ever had the word “revenge” in it?) and Angels and Demons (which would technically be a prequel?). Yikes. Neither one of the original movies, I think, deserve a second viewing (come on, you have to admit that Transformers was all style, no substance), much less twelve more dollars from me. But at least if I do get suckered into seeing one of these, I can rest assured that neither will be able to match the travesty of National Treasure 2. It was literally the first movie re-shot. IT WAS THE SAME MOVIE.
But maybe it was my own fault… what did I expect? Hollywood, you fiend, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
[And on a completely unrelated note, Katherine Heigl, shut up.]
Monday, June 9, 2008
Instead of being turned off by asshats, eccentrics, and general offbeat oddities, I’m going to look at it as interesting character fodder. As in, my aren’t you just fascinating. Because sometimes those weirdos are just inescapable, so you might as well get something out of interacting with them. Even people you like often do/say outrageous things that you could not think up in your narrowly viewed mind.
And here is when real life turns out to be way better than any fiction story ever told. Sometimes you just can’t make this shit up. That’s why people write about who and what they know. Take this convo for instance—ah, the mind of five year olds:
Chase: Charlie, I'm studying a really cool ocean animal in school and it's really cute and I want to tell you what it's called. it's called a piping plover.
Charlie: I love piping plovers!!
Chase: I know! They lay an egg EVERY DAY!
Charlie: Dude, you are so lucky. that is so cool!
Sometimes the most off-handed comments are the most memorable. I was talking to a fifteen year old girl who had finally moved back in with her mother after being in foster care for half her life. She told me how when she was younger, adults would always tell her wistfully about how they missed being young and carefree, too. And at eight years old, she would agree with them. The words she used were succinct, but they implied so much.
It’s really the simplest things in life that are the most interesting. Comedians find the funny in daily life. Poets find the beauty. No matter how daringly unique you think you are, you are not the only one to have insightful thoughts. Everyone, even (especially!) a five year old, has profound thoughts. And no, I do not think that acknowledging that makes me profound in any way. In fact, I’m fairly certain I stole that line from someone else.
I don’t know if I’ve ever said anything that made someone think, “Wow, cool,” but people impress me every day. Shine on, you crazy stars.
“Blame” by Shel Silverstein
I wrote such a beautiful book for you
'Bout rainbows and sunshine
And dreams that come true.
But the goat went and ate it
(You knew that we would),
So I wrote you another oneFast as I could.
Of course it could never be
Nearly as great
As that beautiful book
That the silly goat ate.
So if you don't like
This new book I just wrote--
Blame the goat.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
How wonderful it is to be able to eat bite-sized cookies! Crumbs no longer cascade down when I take a bite. It makes snacking so much easier, quicker, and more convenient. As a stubborn non-nibbler, being able to toss an entire cookie (or if I'm particularly voracious, a few entire cookies) into my mouth makes the experience infinitely more satisfying. Extra big, chewy cookies are fun when you're a kid, but the bite-sized variety makes snacking a sophistocated grown-up activity. And sneaking handfuls from your desk draw at work, or eating a few inbetween classes is made so much easier as well. We're constantly finding ways to make things more convienient, faster, and better. Every new invention seems like simply an improvement over an old one.
But where does it end? What's worth time and effort nowadays?
Take this contraption for instance: The Plant Nanny. It helps regulate the amount of water going into your plants. Water seeps through the ceramic tube, giving your plants a healthy amount every time. Amazingly useful if you have a black thumb, or for those times you go on vacation. But seriously, how hard is it to water a plant every day? With this, everyone gets to be a potted-plant owner with virtually no effort. If you don't even want to take the five minutes to water it, I'm skeptical as to whether you should have it in the first place. (I also worry about your pets and/or children.)
It wouldn't indicate a certain amount of cheating so much if perhaps it didn't seeme like the whole world was going in this direction. Our society has just become so gluttonous and demanding that our cookies must be bite-sized (the name just suggests such laziness!), our plants must water themselves, and everything must have a remote control (God forbid we actually have to get up to operate something).
I'm thinking I need some change. I'm not necessarily going to start churning my own butter or anything, but one in a while I'm going to start using that extra time accumulated because of modern conveniences to engage in something that takes a little time and effort.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I have an irrational hatred of feet. Well, it's actually not that irrational, I think. They are ugly (corns, blisters, dry patches, stubby-almost-fingers at the ends of them...) and smelly. I do not understand foot fetishes. I do understand shoe fetishes, for shoes are cute and good for covering up feet. But man, if my S.O. ever asks for a foot rub, I will just buy him one of those foot bath things. Those are actually pretty cool. Maybe I'll just buy one for myself and let him borrow it.
There are plenty of things I dislike, but there are also a lot of things that I do like. Little things that brighten up my day. Off
the top of my head, I can probably think of five. Let's see...
five things that make me happy:
1. A completely full tank of gas
2. Waking up and realizing I still have an hour before I have to get up
3. A continual string of good songs on the radio until I get to my destination
4. Being in the middle of a really good book
5. Slightly sore muscles after a good work out
Yea, even just typing that list lifts my spirit.
Was it Aristotle who said our goal in life as humans is happiness? I suppose that's what it is, isn't it? Who doesn't live for happiness?
Even in movies, the stories are all the same. Person wants something. Person gets what he wants. The end.
There are a (very) few exceptions.
Sometimes in the end, he goes crazy or dies. That's called an Oscar-nominated film.
But essentially, they're all the same. That's why we can be satisfied by judging a film based on its trailer. Because really, those things show us all we need to know. We've seen so many movies, that we can just fill in the blanks at this point.
So what's the draw? I guess I could bring up the cliche that it's not the destination, it's the journey, but that's just lazy. Maybe the draw is simply the predictable, happy ending. Who wants to sit through two hours of watching a sports movie where a team must overcome conflict between the players, coaches, and establishment, only to have them lose the championship? We watch it because we KNOW they win in the end. (Yea, I know Rocky lost, but he falls into the Oscar category anyway.) You know, I don't think there's anything wrong with the simple movie format. It's what people want, I suppose.
If you want something different, watch an indie film.
The reason odd scripts turn into only indie or art house films are that people find comfort in familiar things. I like romantic comedies when the guy gets the girl in the end. I like my songs to have choruses. The repetition is nice. I expect my rock songs to climax somewhere around the end. Waking up at the same time everday is good for not only your body, but I think your mind as well.
Monotomy can be nice because it gives you a place in life. A certain perspective. Having a corporate ladder to climb, having a career, is normal and healthy. We like having contingency plans for the future. It makes us happy. Even the most daring adventurer needs some stable things in his life.
Feet are bad, but overall, life, and movies, are good.
Friday, June 6, 2008
So my current obsession is obviously Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. It's the ultimate guilty pleasure, and since I can barely still call myself a teen, I feel even more guilty for enjoying the young adults series so much. It's amazing how much a silly romance can draw you in. When I first read it, it really felt like a chaste teenage harlequin romance novel. Still does, actually. It's so blatantly girly and emotional that small doses are best, I'll admit. But man, it's impossible not to read the entire book in one day.
I've noticed that I really enjoy reading books with female authors. It really does make a difference-- women do think differenly than men. When I read Harry Potter, I feel like I'm on the same wave-length as Jo Rowling. Like, that's what I'd have my characters do, I understand their motivations behind their actions, words, and thoughts. And one could say that it could just be the case with her in particular, and that certainly has something to do with it, but I also think that there is no way a man could write/ express himself the way she does in Harry Potter. Even guys who love the series don't seem to pick up on certain nuances that are second nature to girls who read it. (I know, I'm being pretty vague, but the incident happend so long ago, I don't really remember. Suffice it to say, I found it surprising that he just didn't understand some part in the book that seemed so clear to me, and that's when I came to the conclusion about the minds of men/women. That Mars and Venus thing may be pretty spot on.)
I am not saying that I'll only read books by female authors, or only enjoy those books. But I do feel a stronger connection to the prose if it is written by a woman. I get a feeling of a kindred spirit, and being the sappy person that I am, I really enjoy it. Sure there have been books that I've loved which were written by men. But for those books, I loved them more as an outsider, like I was just being invited into the mind of someone else. I never get the feeling that I could have written the words myself. That the characters could have grown from my own imagination. I do get that feeling when I read a lot of books written by women. I don't think it's merely a coincidence that the only fantasy series I've actually finished (and enjoyed a lot) was The Enchanted Forest Chronocles (ie. Dealing With Dragons) by Patricia C. Wrede.
Speaking of the fantasy genre, I must admit that I think it is the easiest type of book to write. Not to say it doesn't take a lot of skill, but imagination is probably the most important part. Look at it this way, you don't really have to know anything about anything because you completely make up your own world. (Though it's likely to have a lot of kings, princesses, creatures, woods, and sorcerers) A talent for good characterization helps, but honestly, the characters are pretty stock, sometimes bordering on boring cliches. The plot begins with your average Joe who discovers he has a special power, either innate, or found, and he then goes on a quest. Bad guys are battled along the way, but in the end he succeeds and is rewarded. Every genre has a certain formula, but fantasy seems to be particularly predictable in its stories. I honestly can't get into it. It doesn't help that they're usually written by guys, and gives a guy's perspective. If you're thinking, well, romantic novels are just as bad, then... I have to agree. But you know, I'm a girl, so they work for me for some reason. (Usually, of course. I expect a certain quality of good characters and at least decent writing.)
While I don't enjoy reading fantasy books, they're actually really fun to write. I give up on my writing project after a few pages, but the fantasy one I worked on for a while got up to about five chapters in outline form, and then I wrote about three of them. That's quite an accomplishment for me! It was pretty standard. I was more practicing writing characters with personality than focusing on compelling plot. But creating a world was cool. And, I think, pretty easy. Not to say it's easy to write an entire fantasy series, but for me, it was the easiest story I ever wrote.
And no, you may not read it. (Trust me, you really don't want to anyway.) If you're really curious, though, it's about four guys, best friends, who grew up in an orphanage together, and then, (shocker!) end up having to go on a quest/adventure together. I wanted to create a fantasy story with really meaty characters that you just fall in love with (I do not think I pulled it off). And I love the idea of friendship that transcends... everything else. I hate it when the hero choses his romantic love over his friends in stories.
I made lose plans/ outlines for four books, actually. Yea, it's going to be a series. Look for it at Barnes and Nobles in the year 2020.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
...Or should it be La telenovela? Hmm... my Spanish is pretty rusty nowadays. Luckily I have this summer to brush up until I have to take a Spanish class this fall. ["rusty"? "brush up"? Since when did I start talking with such pedantic idioms?]
Anyway, this morning I heard a lot of Spanish-speaking outside my room (long, wet story) and it got me thinking about... Mexico, I guess. And subsequently, telenovelas. In high school we would have to watch half an hour of Spanish-speaking TV each week, and I got hooked on this strange telenovela called "La Fea Mas Bella". It wasn't until later that I realized that obscure Univision show was actually a version of the insanely popular Columbian show "Yo soy Betty, la fea"; two predecesors of "Ugly Betty".
Interestingly, in that funny self-aware-meta way, "Ugly Betty" loves making fun of telenovelas, but I can't help but think about what makes them actually so popular. There are A LOT of them. More close to home: there are a lot of soap operas in the states as well. [Isn't it interesting how only foreigners call the US "the states"?]
What is the appeal? Are some people so dull minded that they'll sit through a soap opera five days a week? I'll admit, I was pretty addicted to one in middle school. I would get upset if the VCR missed taping just one day of the show. I'd act like I actually missed something important in the storyline. But see, I was in
middle school. My brain was not fully developed!
Oh, I sound like I'm making fun. Which, I am, but actually, the more I thought about it, the more I saw the virtues of such mindless entertainment. Or rather, came to accept the element of its draw. Because as failing shows like the realistic (and spectacular) "Friday Night Lights" prove, television truely is a lowest-common-denomintor form of entertainment, and if people really wanted some brain-food, they'd read a book.
The reason people love their soaps is because it is so disconnected from reality. We eagerly engage in entertainment that will take our minds off of the boring repitition of our lives. Soap operas generally operate in a world parallel to ours- one show equals one day for us- and watching someone going through such concentrated amounts of drama every single day becomes addicting because it acutely contrasts to our own. I'm not saying you have to have an utterly dull life to like soap operas, but the point of soaps are a hightend portrayal of life.
Imagine living in a world where every emotion you felt was overwhelmingly raw and sincerely felt. Where every high is the zenith of life, and every low is rock bottom. Every action has a consequence. Every moment is life and death. It sounds ridiculous... and it is. For while we watch these fictional lives play out every day, becoming obsessed against our better judgment, the other part of the draw is being about to watch with a critical (sometimes mocking, sometimes relating) eye from the comfort of our sofa. The sofa we bought with the money we earned from working our nine to five office job.
Because we grow to know these characters so intimately, five days a week, it is the ultimate example of living vicariously. Perhaps it helps satiate an innate human longing for drama when gossip just isn't enough. Perhaps it's nothing more than just a guilty pleasure, or background noise for when you're puttering around the house. I know that when I was addicted, I didn't really think about any of that, though. I just wanted to know if Miguel was finally going to pick Charity or Kay.
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