11.25.2009

Wanna See Something Cool?

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It's been a favorite game of my husband and I's to say 'Do you wanna see something cool' and then typing 'something cool' into google images. We used to get a picture of a horse from World of Warcraft. Today I just typed it into the regular google without images and got this! We should probably all check it out. It's apparently cool...

11.16.2009

Life, Death, and Renewal

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I really would not consider myself a "fan" of the Disney Fantasia movies. I remember watching the first one when I was a little girl and being bored out of my mind. I was pretty sure I was going to feel the same way about Fantasia 2000 when my husband bought it a few weeks ago. I surprised myself when I actually really enjoyed it! I ESPECIALLY loved the finale "Firebird".
I would rather not say too much about it. You really need to watch it for yourself. I really don't think I have many words that could express what this short film makes me feel.



I did a little research on the music. It was written by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) for a ballet called "Firebird" in 1910. The particular piece that they used in the Disney Fantasia 2000 movie was the 1919 version. Just a piece of trivia: Disney bought the rights to this music in 1940 when they made the first Fantasia. Roy Disney decided it would make the perfect finale piece and asked Gaetan Brizzi & Paul Brizzi (animators that worked on The Hunchback of Notre Dame) if they would like to work on it. You can read more about that here:

http://animated-features.tripod.com/features/fantasia2k/firebird/firebird.htm

After learning this piece was written for a ballet I was very curious what the ballet could have been about. It seemed like it was MADE for that piece of animation. Here is a short plot summary of the ballet. I found it at

http://www.danceit.org/firebird.html

"Young prince Ivan finds himself in the terrible realm of the giant Kashchei, the immortal entity of pure evil, who imprisons women and transforms men into stone. Not realising the danger, Ivan rambles through the bewitched garden of Kashchei where he meets a dazzling Firebird. Struck by the Firebird’s beauty, he steals one of its feathers and runs away.
That evening he encounters 13 maidens, and falls passionately in love with one of them. The next morning, when the maidens, Kashchei’s prisoners, are compelled by magic to return to his castle, Ivan follows them.
Kashchei's monstrous servants capture him, and are about to transform him into stone. He waves the magical feather that summons the Firebird, who tells him the secret of Kashchei’s immortality: his spirit in the form of an egg that he keeps in coffer, must remain intact.
Ivan opens the coffer and breaks the egg; the monster dies, its magic is dissolved, and all those who he had captured are freed. The maiden Ivan loves, princess Tsarevna, and the prince marry."

I hope you enjoyed this film! I know I absolutely loved it!

11.15.2009

MY FAVORITE GERMAN WORDS

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I can't count how many years I have used the world 'hoopla' as a replacement for 'wahoo!' or 'yeah!' or 'awesome!' Today I gave my friend a giant HOOPLA on Facebook when she told me some good news! Apparently my friend knows German. Also, apparently Hoopla is a German word. Also...apparently I have been shouting 'OOPS' whenever I get really excited about something! HOOPLA!

I also learned today something fascinating about the word Uber. I always thought it was a Canadian word. I guess it's a German word for "over". So in the sentence. I am so uber dumb, that means I am over stupid. Makes sense.

Rein of Fire

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Five things that would have made this movie awesome.
1)A better plot. Or perhaps that is asking too much. If they had just followed through with the one they started with, it may have worked out ok. It's like there were a bunch of bored guys sitting in a room. One says 'dragons are cool'. The other says 'guns are cool'. The third one says 'Perfect! Let's make a movie!' Guy four says (this is the smart one) 'Wait..what do dragons and guns have to do with eachother?" The other three respond "Who cares. No one will even notice it doesn't make sense cause we'll have fire."

2)An actor that isn't a 'pretty boy' as the tough guy. (Matthew Mcconaughey as Van Zan)The reason why Matthew Mcconaughey is in movies is because he is witty and attractive. So whose brilliant idea was it to give him a serious role and make him ugly? Not the best move in my opinion.

3)A new script. I didn't understand what half the dialogue meant. I always felt like I was missing something big. I watched this movie five times trying to figure out what it was. I finally came to the conclusion it was a device to read people's minds- cause there was no hope with from the script alone.

4)Better shots. It seemed like they put their camera in one place and talked about what was going on around them instead of showing it. Maybe if they hadn't spent all their money hiring Mcconaughey they would have had some money to actually shoot a few more shots instead of having to talk about it in their pathetic script.

5)A better directer. I'm pretty sure this would have taken care of the first four. I watched the special features. This man honestly believes he has shot a horror film. I feel bad for him honestly. He talked about how he used to direct for X-Files and he made a point to not direct the episodes that had to do with 'monsters' because he didn't feel he was very good at it. He said he never would have thought years down the road he would be shooting his own monster movie. He should have listened to his instincts.

Ok. I am being a little cynical. I do have to admit that while I did come to the conclusion it was basically not worth my time to watch- I did watch it five or six times before I fully came to that conclusion. Also, I thought that Christian Bale and Gerard Butler did amazing things with the little they were given.

And that is my two cents on that.

11.11.2009

Regina Spektor- Folding Chair

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What I love about Regina Spektor:
1)Her lyrics are so random, but yet hold so much meaning.
2)Her music is so basic but always portrays her emotions perfectly.
3)Her voice is BEAUTIFUL, but also she is not afraid to sound like an idiot!


I particularly like this song because everything about it SO simple, but it gives me the chills every time. (Those of us who play the piano can tell she is no Mozart. I mean- the tune is basically "Heart and Soul" with some extra bounce and the beat is a little different- but...it's..AMAZING.) She is just describing a moment she is having on the beach- and the thoughts that are going through her head.



Folding Chair:
Come and open up your folding chair next to me
My feet are buried in the sand and there’s a breeze
There’s a shadow, you can’t see my eyes
And the sea is just a wetter version of the skies

Let’s get a silver bullet trailer and have a baby boy
I’ll safety-pin his clothes all cool and you’ll grafitti up his toys
I’ve got a perfect body, though sometimes I forget
I’ve got a perfect body cause my eyelashes catch my sweat
Yes, they do, they do…

Now i’ve been sitting on this abandoned beach for years
Waiting for the salty water to cover up my ears
But every time the tide come in to take me home
I get scared, and I’m sitting here alone
Dreaming of the dolphin song…

Maybe one day you will understand
I don’t want nothing from you but to sweetly hold your hand
Till that day just please don’t be so down
Don’t make frowns, you silly clown

Just come and open up your folding chair next to me
My feet are buried in the sand and there’s a breeze
There’s a shadow, you can’t see my eyes
And the waves are just a frothier version of the skies

There’s a shadow, you can’t see my eyes…

From Sad to Silly in 15 Easy Steps

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Here's a mix that I put together for a friend. These songs in this order always seem to bring me just a tad out of the slump I'm in.
1)Fix You- Coldplay
2)Never Is a Promise- Fiona Apple
3)Perfect (Acoustic Album Version)- Alanis Morissette
4)Sullen Girl- Fiona Apple
5)The Nurse Whoe Loved Me (A Perfect Circle)
6)Hide and Seek- Imogen Heap
7)Star Mile- Joshua Radin
8)Such Great Heights- Iron & Wine
9)Why Worry- Dire Straits (although I wish there was a better version. I'm not a fan of all the in between music)
10)Blackbird- Sarah McLachlan
11)Happy- Brandi Carlile
12)Self Portrait- Stephanie Smith
13)Two of Us- Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
14)The Way I Am- Ingrid Michaelson
15)Folding Chair- Regina Spektor

Archetypes in The Golden Compass

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I wrote this paper for my Children's Literature class a year ago. I LOVED that class. We read a ton of really good books! This was my favorite paper to write! Sorry the spaces are so weird. I tried to fix them...

ARCHETYPES IN PULLMANS, THE GOLDEN COMPASS
“Archetypes provide a deep structure for human motivation and meaning. When we encounter them in art, literature, sacred texts, advertising- or in individual groups- they evoke deep feelings within us.” (Archetypes 101) The same is true in Pullman’s The Golden Compass. Throughout this epic narrative depicting the battle between good and evil, the author utilizes contrasting archetypes to emphasize the struggle. Through the opposing archetypal characters the reader becomes aware of the divergent forces and their distinct nature. Two of the characters that serve this purpose are Mrs. Coulter and Serafina Pekkala.

Mrs. Coulter, the main antagonist, represents the femme fatale archetype, or “the alluring and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations” (Wikipedia). This is evident when the author describes her powerful presence as she lures both children and people of power into her clutches: “They all gazed, suddenly shy. They had never seen a lady like this; she was so gracious and sweet and kind that they felt they hardly deserved their good luck, and whatever she asked, they’d give it gladly so as to stay in her presence a little longer” (Pullman pg 39) It is this “air of graciousness” that draws men and children alike to her (pg 59). However, beneath her beautiful exterior lies a cunning and controlling core. Manifestations of Mrs. Coulter’s true character are displayed through her daemon, a golden monkey. Lyra, the central protagonist, first experiences Mrs. Coulter’s true nature when she mentions Dust. While Mrs. Coulter remains collected at the mention of Dust, her daemon “snap[s] his head up to look at her, and all the golden fur on his little body [stands] up, bristling” (pg 73). Later, Lyra is preparing to leave for a cocktail party when Mrs. Coulter asks Lyra to leave her shoulder bag behind. When she stubbornly refuses Mrs. Coulter’s daemon seizes Pan, Lyra’s daemon, and grabs its ear and “pull[s] as if he intended to tear it off” (pg 75). Calmly, Mrs. Coulter insists on Lyra’s obedience. It is only until Lyra promises to obey Mrs. Coulter’s wishes that Pan is released. This “cold curious force that was horrifying to see and even worse to feel” is Mrs. Coulters constituent for power (pg 75). Her cunning elegance and subtle domination enables her to maintain favor within the church, become head of the General Oblation Board, kidnap children, and gain power over Iofur Raknison, the Bear King. This attractive but crafty evil depicts the nature of the malevolent forces within The Golden Compass.

In contrast to Lyra’s biological mother, Serafina Pekkala represents the archetypal Earth Mother. The Earth Mother “offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact” (Malendez). A witch queen, Serafina Pekkala is pure, wise, and strong and, similar to Mrs. Coulter’s daemon, the witch’s stately grey goose daemon also reflects her character. Throughout the story, Kiasa, Serafina Pekkala’s daemon, comes to aid, inform, and protect. When he first appears to the Gyptains, he provides valuable information about Bolvangar, the place where the children are being held captive, that will enable the Gyptains to rescue the kidnapped children. Later, he assists Lyra there. He says “I followed you here, though you didn’t see me” (pg 226). He assists her in releasing the caged daemons by “throwing snow up against the door” to help unlock the room in which they were held (pg 227). When the children finally do escape, Serafina Pekkala assists in transporting the balloon that carries Lyra to safety.

Serafina is kind in nature and because witches live for hundreds of years, timeless in perspective. She describes “Witches own nothing, so we’re not interested in preserving value or making profits…We have different needs… We have no means of exchange apart from mutual aid. If a witch needs something, another witch will give it to her. If there is a war to be fought, we don’t consider cost one of the factors in deciding whether or not it is right to fight” (pg 270).
While Mrs. Coulter and Serafina Pekkala have opposing archetypal roles, there is one archetype that they have in common: that of the forbidden lover. However, the distinction between good and evil is evident here as well. Mrs. Coulter, a power hungry megalomaniac, was once married to a rising politician but fell in love with the rich and passionate explorer Lord Asriel, and gave birth to their illegitimate child. When her husband discovered that he was not the father of the child, he challenged Lord Asriel, who in an attempt to secure the safety of his family, killed Mr. Coulter. As consequence to the lawsuits against him, Lord Asriel lost his entire fortune. At this time Mrs. Coulter “wanted nothing to do with it…She turned her back” (pg 109). True to femme fatale form, she selfishly chose to have this love be forbidden because her desire for power outweighed her desire for love.

Dissimilarly, the relationship between Serefina Pekkala and Farder Coram is an unadulterated romance that has forcefully ended due to the nature of their beings. Witches, such as Serefina Pekkula, live for nearly a thousand years while their lovers age as mortals. Though the relationship has ended between the lovers, the devotion and assistance is still mutual. Nature will not allow their romance to live on, but their personal natures keep the flame burning within their hearts. The manner in which both Mrs. Coulter and Serafina Pekkala create (and deal with) their individual roles as the classic forbidden lovers serves to further illustrate the contrasting motivations and personalities of these characters. Thus the reader is further prompted to truly feel sympathetic for the good and apathetic for the evil in the overall struggle portrayed in the novel.

Through the archetype representations of Mrs. Coulter and Serefina Pekkala the author is able to more clearly establish the struggle between good and evil within The Golden Compass. Throughout the novel, Lyra and her comrades are striving to free captive children from the Gobblers, of which Mrs. Coulter is the leader. Fortunately, Lyra is able to enlist the aid of such benevolent characters as Sarafina Pekkala, and by so doing is able to free the children. Thus we see that, true to archetypal form, the author places the good witch and the evil temptress on the sides of good and evil, respectively. Through the traits and decisions of these characters it is easy for the reader to deeply care about this struggle, and to, in essence, love and hate the characters the author intends them to.

Works Cited
• Archetypes 101. 19 October 2008 .

• Malendez, Doctor M. Archetypes List. 2002. 19 October 2008 .

• Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. New York: Random House , 1995.

• Wikipedia. Femme fatale. May 2007. 19 October 2008 .

Time Machine: Movie vs. Book

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After spending about an hour trying to write up a formal paper about what I learned from the book “Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, I decided I was going to throw out formal and just write out my thoughts.

I got sick this week so I have had a lot of time to think. I borrowed the movie “Time Machine” from my friend Brittni. I had seen previews and was expecting it to be an action packed film with a thin plot to hold it together. I knew it was based on a book, but I had never read it.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the metaphors and patterns that were consistent throughout the movie. The most obvious metaphor to me was the connections light had to do with the past.

For those of you who have no prior experience with the movie let me give you a brief summary. A scientist is about to propose to a woman when an accident happens and she is killed. He feels responsible for her death and motivated by his obsession to make things right, he builds a time machine to return to the moment and make it right. He learns however, that he cannot change the past. He realizes that science and technology in his time, are not advanced enough to fully understand time travel- so he travels to the future, hoping to find more answers. He is brought to a time 800,000 years in the future and finds two separate species that have evolved from humans. There are the Eloi that live in the light and the Morlock, who have evolved to survive underground.

As the story plays out, we realize that the Eloi are a peaceful people who are easily able to accept the misfortunes of the past and don’t seem to have any hope or even concept of the future. They live their simple lives day after day with no bother of time. They make it a point to never discuss anything that would remind them of fear or pain they may have experienced in the past.
In contrast, the Morlock seem to be driven entirely by the past and what they expect of the future. Because their people were forced into the ground thousands of years before, they have evolved into warped creatures. Their entire existence is based on staying alive by feeding upon the creatures that forced the tragedy of their underground lifestyle.

Alex, the main character, has both Eloi and Morlock in him. He is driven by the past of the woman that haunts him and the future that could be, but learns through the course of the movie the beauty of living life with no regrets or expectations. He has to decide which side of him will conquer, and has to save one from the other.
While this theme was beautifully portrayed, it left me confused. I didn’t understand a lot of the specifics. This made me decide I would try to gain more insight by reading the book.

I was surprised by not only how different the story was, but especially by how different the message was. I think there is one passage in the book that sums up the message of the book beautifully. H.G. Wells writes “It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.”
In the novel, it explains that the Eloi were at one point the higher class. They forced the lower class into the ground to do all of the work for them. The more work the Morlock did, the more perfect the life of the Eloi became. The more perfect their life was, the easier it became. They eventually evolved into nothing more than child like adults. Their attention spans were shortened, their capacity to reason was taken away,their language was diminished to only communicate simple ideas, and even their dna became so basic they all looked close to the same.
H.G. Wells suggests that a society or even a single life without train or struggle creates a life of complacency and eventually stagnancy. The Morlock evolved into a much more capable society and were eventually able to turn the tables because of the many difficulties they had to overcome.

The book played out more like an observation. The time traveler found himself emotionally effected by the sad and simple lives of the Eloi, but spent his entire time there trying to retrieve his machine so that he could return home. He felt no need to change what had become, simply to escape it.

I am really glad that I saw the movie before the book. I think this has allowed me to love them both equally. I enjoyed the story of the movie much better, but the message of the book strikes a true chord within me. I have decided if I were ever to become a literature teacher, I would spend a lot of time discussing the meaning and symbolism in this book. I found it an entirely satisfying read- and even more than that. I found it intellectually delicious!

11.07.2009

Let Me Introduce Myself

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Four years ago, I traveled half way around the world to visit the Great Wall of China. This was something that I had been looking forward to for a good portion of my life. As I sat on the steps overlooking the miles of stone that dotted the mountains, I dashed through a variety of emotions. Firstly I was amazed by the beauty of the wall rising and falling over each mountain peak as far as the eye could see. Secondly I was overwhelmed with the joy of finally setting foot on such a fascinating piece of history. But suddenly, and very unexpectedly, I felt a deep sense of sadness. For years I had dreamed of this moment and it had finally arrived. However, it suddenly meant almost nothing because I had no one to share it with. All I have to show from my trip to The Great Wall of China is a picture of me that I took by myself.
I found myself in a similar situation earlier this week. When I became a stay-at-home mom a little over four months ago, I found myself needing something to fill the void of all the mental stimulation I would now be missing. I started watching TV, but quickly learned that mind numbing sit-coms were not going to do the job appropriately. So, we signed up for Netflix. In the past weeks I have experienced incredible moments of awakening. I have seen the world through a hundred different perspectives through a variety of documentaries, cultural films, and period pieces. I realized that once again, I was experiencing something great, but had no way of sharing it.
This is the reason I have decided to create this blog. I’m hoping that writing about the things I learn through the different media that I encounter, will help me feel that it’s not all going to waste. Feel free to read and comment on anything you want to in this blog. Also feel free to suggest anything to me that you have found similarly inspiring or eye opening.
 

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